- Whole Ingredient Nutrient Extraction is a novel technology that allows for the large-scale production of plant-based products with no waste
- It is being commercialised by Whole Green Foods, with an R&D facility in Western Australia built to enable customer trials
- The cold process is input-agnostic, so can be used for any grains, fruits or vegetables
- Whole Green Foods is a GRDC-supported start-up
As the market for alternative proteins increases, a novel nutrient-extraction technology is poised to help Australia’s agriculture and food industry meet demand while boosting grains’ value and reducing waste.
Whole Green Foods, a GRDC-supported start-up, has developed a technology called Whole Ingredient Nutrient Extraction (WINX). It is a chemical-free processing solution that cost-effectively allows for the large-scale production of plant-based products.
Co-founder Nick Stamatiou says the ‘whole’ in WINX’s processing is a great advantage. “We take the whole cereal or legume and reduce it to a small-enough particle size that we can introduce it to our soaking tank.”
This wet process sees this input mixed with water, oil or alcohol. “The magic happens in the final steps where we use ultra-high pressure to achieve cell bursting, releasing all the nutrition and flavour and reducing the particles to around 20 microns. Then it can be used in anything from beverages to flavours and ingredients.”
Mr Stamatiou says the process is input-agnostic so it can be used for any grains. It is also a cold process. “We don’t use heat, which is typically where a lot of operational expenditure occurs, and there is no processing waste, so you don’t have the costs of disposal.”
He says the idea started as a method of reducing food waste and there is now great interest from food manufacturers Sanitarium, Unigrain, Noumi and Kerry.
The technology could help the agrifoods industry meet the growing demand for plant-based proteins. “Oat milk is a good example of that. At the moment, oat milk is basically made like tea. It is decanted, leaving the fibre behind as waste. Using our WINX technology, there is no processing waste – 100 per cent of the oats are used.”
However, for the grains industry, its value could also lie in the use of oats not visually suitable for milling.
GRDC business development manager Tim Spencer says that because WINX does not require the same standards for its grain inputs, it offers a higher-value opportunity for oats that may be rejected for milling, flaking or rolling.
“With potentially more opportunity for regional oat processing, especially in the west, this provides an opportunity for inclusion of more oats in rotations.”
Mr Stamatiou adds that an oat concentrate could sell for $3000 to $5000 a tonne instead of $250 to $300/t for raw oats, boosting the value of grains.
The Whole Green Foods team includes technology and food processing expert Cedric Cross and commercialisation and strategy adviser Ivan Gustavino. Together with Mr Stamatiou, they have spent the past few years designing, developing and de-risking the technology.
Now ready for commercialisation, the business proposal is to license the technology to other businesses.
With this in mind, it has opened its first ‘Nutrition Lab’ at the University of Western Australia’s Mount Claremont campus. This will allow potential customers to try before they buy and produce up to 15,000 litres per day of an output ingredient.
Another WINX processing line is also planned for the Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia, at Peel. The team is to open another facility on the east coast within the next 12 months and is considering other inputs, including chickpeas, canola and lupins.
Whole Green Foods has been part of the GRDC-supported AgriStart innovation program.
GRDC’s Business Development team manages a number of agtech innovation initiatives. These programs include ‘Growers as Innovators’, an Accelerator program and GrainInnovate.
The innovation strategy aims to benefit grower profitability through improved targeting and support of the agtech start-up innovation ecosystem. These programs aim to address different unmet needs in the innovation process.