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SA firm's high hopes for high-grade dairy protein

Business

Beston Global Food has begun sending customers samples of high-grade dairy protein lactoferrin produced after an upgrade to its plant at Jervois, near Murray Bridge.

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The company installed two new lactoferrin columns at the plant in March.

Beston hopes the project will turn its fortunes around, with the Adelaide-based company yet to make a profit since hitting the ASX in 2015.

Interim-CEO Darren Flew said the food producer was in discussions with potential customers ahead of its commercialisation by June 30.

Flew said while the company was looking to sell the product for use in baby formula, it did not have a heavy reliance on China – one of the world’s leading baby formula markets – and would be focusing on the global pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sectors.

“While China is a market for lactoferrin we’re actually not focusing on China for that,” he said.

“Some of our customers will want to use it for infant formula, yes, but we are also looking to the nutrecuetical, pharmaceutical market as well.

“It’s used in cosmetics as well, so it has a wide range of uses, as well as supplements, it’s growing in the supplements market so you’ll find more and more things like vitamins with lactofarin added to it.”

Lactoferrin is a high value dairy protein that is primarily used in infant formula to provide the bioactive properties that mimic breastmilk. But it can also be used in dietary supplements, pharmaceutical products including respiratory medications, cosmetics and oral hygiene products.

With the first phase of commissioning successfully completed in March, despite delays due to the coronavirus, the company said it had begun refining its extraction process to “optimise the lactoferrin” as part of the second commissioning phase.

“For want of a better example, there’s 10 units of lactoferrin in the milk and the first thing is to make sure we can extract lactoferrin and make sure we have purity of what we put out. The next thing is to try and make sure we have as much lactoferrin as we can,” he said.

“We might be at six or seven units out of the 10 the next thing is to try and get to nine or 10. You’ll never get to 100 per cent so if we can get to 95 per cent extraction with 95 per cent purity we’ll be very happy.”

It comes after a series of troubles for the company, the most recent of which was an eight-day plant halt due to works on the Jervois gas supply pipline.

Last year a deterioration of Teflon coating inside pipeworks caused a week-long shutdown which the company attributed to “a number of problems with the boiler operations”.

Flew said the company was nevertheless “pleased with the process of the project to date”.

“It’s on schedule and on-cost, so we’re very much looking forward to finishing the commissioning and getting some sales away to customers in the coming months.”

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