Meat giant TFI’s $378m move on plant-based food

Meat processing giant Thomas Foods International is planning a massive $378 million foray into the plant-based protein sector, promising to create more than 8,500 full-time jobs, according to media reports

The Adelaide based meat processor, which has meat and seafood processing operations and feedlots in Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe, has joined with Australian Plant Proteins and Australian Milling Group to enter the industry.

A report in said TFI plans three plant manufacturing hubs in regional South Australia and northern Adelaide in what appears to be Australia’s biggest-ever investment in the fast-growing plant protein industry.

TFI managing director Darren Thomas told The Advertiser the time was ripe to expand on its core meat businesses into the plant for sector including meat alternatives, protein powders, protein bars and non-dairy protein drinks.

Thomas said: “The market for plant-based products is expanding rapidly and we see great opportunity to leverage our experience and expertise into this exciting new (industry) for local farmers and consumers across the globe.

The project is backed by a federal government grant of $113 million and state government funding of $65 million.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said: “It is a major step forward in transforming SA into a plant-based protein manufacturing and export powerhouse.”

This is not the first time TFI has benefitted from its relationship with Canberra.

In May, 2020 the company exported its first shipment of lamb, beef and seafood to Singapore under Canberra’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism which assisted exporters hit by freight interruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The companies lining up behind the new venture are a who’s who of traditional and plant protein-focused businesses.

TFI has extensive operations in meat processing, food wholesale, farming, fresh produce, seafood, beef, lamb, mutton, goat, skins/hides, and retail.

The company is currently building a new multi-meat processing plant to employ 2,000 near Murray Bridge, SA to replace one destroyed by fire.

Minority owned by Bunge, Australian Plant Proteins is currently doubling the size of Australia’s only commercial plant protein fraction plant at Horsham in Victoria as part of a $45.7 million investment.

The company uses its unique fractionation process to develop protein isolates from Faba beans, peas, canola, yellow peas, mung beans, chickpeas, red lentils and yellow lentils.

Australian Milling Group is part of Toowoomba’s AGT Foods Australia which is a major processor of pulses, staple foods and ingredients for export and domestic markets.

The company has facilities at Horsham, Victoria, Bowmans and Kadina, SA, and Narrabri, New South Wales.

Picture: Thomas Food International

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