WIMMERA Development Association has secured funding to advance a world-first project that will convert pulse grain waste into protein powder for a food additive.
The State Government will contribute $60,000 for the project's second stage to investigate the potential for a processing factory in the Wimmera.
The initial stage involved trial processing of pulse grain waste.
Association executive director Jo Bourke said the project aimed to extract protein from red lentils and faba beans.
"Most of the protein powder that you get in Australia is dairy protein from milk which a lot of people can't have because they're allergic," she said. Mrs Bourke said the powder produced from the lentils and faba beans was tasteless and odourless.
"The food companies are really interested in it because it is a non-allergen and it's soluble," she said.
Wimmera Grains Cluster is leading the project. The cluster is a group within the association, which comprises businesses in both the grains sector and supply chain industries.
The powder is 85 per cent protein and has not been used in food production anywhere else in the world.
The powder could potentially be used in cereal, muesli bars, health foods, consumable protein powders and ready-made meals.
Mrs Bourke said the second stage of the project would examine the potential for a factory to be established to process the powder.
"We've done some trial processing and we've provided samples to food companies to test demand for the product,'' she said.
"Now this money will enable us to do the process design and the engineering costing for a factory."
Mrs Bourke said the project could add value to the region's agriculture while also creating employment.
"We're really keen to get some regional investment into the factory so that we can anchor the processing in the region, because that means jobs," she said.
She said Wimmera Development Association had applied for patents for the project.
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said the project could provide a major boost to the Wimmera's economy.
"Building a large processing plant that produces protein powder from pulse grains could create a number of jobs for the region through the manufacturing, packaging and transportation process," he said.
"The project will capitalise on the region's comparative advantage of growing pulse grains by developing a prospectus to attract a food processing business into the Wimmera.
"This is a sound economic development that has good potential to provide secure and ongoing employment for the region.''
The government's $60,000 adds to $90,000 from the government and grains cluster already spent on research and trial processing.