Sweet white lupin: from fallow crop to superfood

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Western Australian grain growers’ cooperative the CBH Group has established a lupin health-food firm, Lupin Foods Australia (LFA), focusing on the domestic and global health-food markets. Its processing plant in Perth, a repurposing of the Forrestfield mill, originally part of a joint venture with George Weston Foods, is the first in Australia to produce lupin-based health-food products on a commercial scale. 

Crop of White Lupins in Western Australia
Crop of White Lupins in Western Australia
WA Department of Agriculture and Food

Due to its high nutritional value and favourable chemical composition, the Australian sweet white lupin, Lupinus angustifolius, is attracting worldwide attention as a new, healthy ‘superfood’.

Most often used as a rotational crop for nutrient-depleted paddocks, lupins typically bring low (stock-feed) prices at market – which is unfortunate, as Australia is the world’s number one lupin exporter. But the health benefits of this humble legume make it an ideal nutraceutical supplement, opening new and potentially lucrative markets.

Lupins contain key nutrients able to lower postprandial blood sugar levels; they may also play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and in bowel and metabolic health.

Given the recent World Health Organization (WHO) initiative on reducing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 percent by 2025, demand is growing for nutritionally boosted foods. South-East Asia, where Australia has a competitive geographic advantage, is an obvious target market.

Natural, non-genetically modified, low-fat, low-GI and gluten-free, with comparatively less starch than several other key grains and pulses, lupins are high in protein and fibre, making them a desirable and versatile ingredient for an array of food products, including bread, flours, breakfast cereals, sausages, meat extenders, dietary fibre, protein concentrates, protein isolates and milk. They’re also suitable for making noodles and fermented food products (e.g. tempeh), and have been shown to be a cost-effective non-GMO replacement for soybeans in many foodstuffs.

Dehulled lupins are also an effective protein supplement that can replace imported soybean meal in poultry and swine feeding.

By processing lupins into nutritionally-enriched food products, Australian agribusinesses can add value to a previously low-profit crop while continuing to reap lupin’s benefits as a nitrogen-fixing, disease-fighting rotational crop and livestock fodder.

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