Words & images   I  Shire of Murray


Construction of the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct is past the halfway mark and already an oat milk company’s product will be distributed in Singapore.


Six alternative protein companies are working with industry experts improving business planning and developing products, with four exploring collaborations with ASEAN
entities, and an indoor vertical farm company the successful applicant of a grant to undertake research and development to incorporate specialty and nursery crops into their platform.

Precinct’s GrowHub signs distribution agreement to take OatUp Oat Milk to Singapore 

In early October, Wide Open Agriculture Ltd. officially announced an exclusive distribution agreement with GrowHub International, to distribute its Dirty Clean Food brand’s OatUP oak milk throughout Singapore. 

GrowHub, founded by Fund Singapore, is the key strategic partner of the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct (WAFIP). This relationship was established by the Peel Development Commission and resulted in signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister for Regional Development, Fund Singapore, the Commission, SCRIPT and Murdoch University in 2018.

The agreement between Wide Open Agriculture and GrowHub is for a two-year term and is the first step for the company in growing its presence and market share in  South-East Asia. It was secured following an extensive sampling program, which indicated demand for the product and preference for OatUP’s carbon neutral  certification.

The agreement includes minimum purchase commitments for approx. AUD$500,000 within the first 12 months. The product will be sold through big box retailers, food service companies, online retailers and specialty stores. GrowHub will train sales staff and market OatUP across Singapore.

Western Australian Businesses Expanding State’s Alternative Protein Advances Abroad

Western Australia is taking a deep dive into the production of alternative proteins though the Precinct’s X-Protein Lab program, with six pioneering businesses expanding  state efforts in the global market.

The businesses are being mentored by industry experts from Singapore and Australia, through their research and development efforts, technology readiness, intellectual property considerations, product-market fit, business models, consumer and market acceptance, investment potential and global relevance.

The businesses will also receive three-months access to the Precinct’s Innovation Centre when it opens mid-2022.

Ainsley Agroforestry and Aquaponics Pty. Ltd., a tree farm based in Greenough, is exploring the production of alternative plant-protein from dried powdered leaves of  Moringa oleifera trees, which will initially be grown in the state’s mid-west.

Whole Green Foods Pty. Ltd. is introducing Western Australia and the world to its novel proprietary processing and extraction technology. Through the program, the company is validating their technology and business model to rapidly scale up, both in Australia and abroad.

Jarra Infusion Wholesale Pty. Ltd. is focusing on business development and commercialisation to enable the supply of a range of plant-based products across WA,  interstate and overseas. The business is also exploring the opportunities offered through mycelium-based protein and the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, for incorporation in its range.

The Lupin Co. are investigating Australian Sweet Lupin as a concentrated protein source for the global food market for tailored foods, specific to consumer needs including for sport, management of diabetes, obesity and other health issues as well as infant health and aged care. 

Furthering the state’s share in the lupin market, Wide Open Agriculture are working through the X-Protein Lab program’s networks to introduce, both to Australia and Asia, its patented process of transforming Australian Sweet Lupin into a format applicable for multiple food and drink categories. The company also hopes to grow Western Australia’s regenerative farming practices. 

The state’s first edible insect farm, Grubs Up Australia, are expanding its target market internationally, for its product range which currently includes protein roasted  crickets, roasted mealworms and high-protein powder. The company also hopes to explore the production of ready-to-eat products such as pre-workout high protein
bars, muesli bars, health food snacks, protein balls, breakfast granola and pancake mixes. 

To date, two of the companies have been selected to pitch for a research and development collaboration with a large food and beverage conglomerate in North Asia. Another company has been linked with a large Middle Eastern bakery to explore product collaborations, with another linked with a likeminded organisation in Singapore to identify market segments and opportunities to work together. 

The projects and products will grow the state’s capacity to supply sustainable sources of protein, with considerable health and environmental benefits, to the West Australian, Australian and ASEAN markets as a gateway to the rest of the world. 

The global plant-based ingredients market is projected to grow exponentially over the next four or so years and these businesses are in viable positions to capitalise on
this opportunity. 

X-Protein Lab program and Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct Experts in Residence include:
* Dr Natasha Teakle, the founder of AgriStart. Dr Teakle is empowering businesses to support regional development and is delivering investment ready programs across
regional Western Australia. 

* Dr Regine Stockman is a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food, the Team Leader for the Food Technology Team as well as the Focus Area Leader for Future Proteins – Ingredients and Foods. Dr. Stockman has worked in food product and process development for almost 20 years with a focus on separation processing to derive functional fractions and ingredients for use in foods. 

* Mr Gerard Chia is a Partner at Singapore-headquartered VisVires New Protein. Mr. Chia is focused on investments and business development and backs ambitious  teams who are delivering transformative solutions for a healthier, safer and more sustainable agri-food system.  

* Professor Paul Teng is the Managing Director at NIE International Pty. Ltd. and Senior Advisor (Agrifood) to A*Star, Singapore’s premier technology research and development organisation with substantial investments in agtech and the food industry. Professor Teng has expertise in food security, agri- and bio-technology innovations and entrepreneurship and sustainable development. 

The X-Protein Lab program is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Peel Development Commission and the Shire of Murray. The program is supported by Austrade Singapore and GrowHub. 

Grant to help vertical farm reach new heights
Eden Towers Pty. Ltd. have received a $200K grant through the Precinct’s Enterprise Support Program, to undertake research and development to investigate how specialty crops can be incorporated into the Eden Towers’ vertical farming platform, how to extract the maximum nutritional benefit from the crops and commercialisation. Investigations into nursery crops will provide opportunities for advancing yields and performance and integration of traditional agriculture with the platform. 

The farm will be the first commercial scale, solar powered indoor vertical farm in Western Australian and will be set up within Peel Business Park. 

Eden Towers and its research partners Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre/Murdoch University, shall validate this portfolio across industry and innovation to ensure proper fit and alignment. 

The Enterprise Support Program, a partnership between the Shire of Murray, DevelopmentWA and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, offers up to $200K in dollar for dollar co-funding to access facilities, purchase specialty equipment and pursue commercial research and development projects.

Precinct construction set for completion in May 2022
As the Innovation Centre, Research and Development Facility and Production Building take shape on site within Peel Business Park, stakeholder input is informing the  definition and design of a fit-for-purpose, iconic, enduring Precinct brand, that captures target audience attention and encourages engagement. Keep an eye out for the launch of the brand early in the new year and the opening of this catalytic facility mid-2022.


Capable Coders


To explore the opportunities on offer through the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct, contact General  Manager Dr Chris Vas on 0410 327 609 or at wafip@murray.wa.gov.au.

WAFIP is supported by $21.75M from the Australian Government’s Regional Growth Fund.


This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2021 edition of Peel magazine – read the full article and, if you haven’t already, download the latest edition of the Peel magazine here