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Indonesians get taste for lupins

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

WA growers are on the cusp of a multi-million-dollar bonanza after CBH cemented its bid to introduce the lupin to Indonesian tastebuds.

Last month, the first container of dehulled lupins was sent to Indonesia to be made into tempe, a dietary staple for the country’s 238 million inhabitants.

Tempe manufacturers were said to be blown away by the quality of lupin tempe, which is healthier, cheaper and has a longer shelf life.

Traditionally, it is made from soybeans, but CBH grower value manager David Fienberg said it had already been proven that lupins could displace 30 per cent of the soybean content for tempe.

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With time, he believes there is the potential to push the lupin content of tempe to 50 or even 100 per cent.

WA has previously exported lupins to its northern neighbour, but only as animal feed.

But if the State’s agricultural and food industry is successful in promoting lupins to an emerging, health-conscious middle class, the rewards to growers could be enormous.

Around 1.8 million tonnes of imported soybeans are made into tempe in Indonesia each year.

If lupins could replace just 30 per cent, demand for the pulse could skyrocket to 600,000 tonnes annually.

And that’s just the beginning — Mr Fienberg said tofu manufacturers were showing interest, while markets in India and the Middle East could also be targeted.

“I’m not an agronomist, but I’ve been told the (agronomic) benefits alone could mean more than $35/ha, ” Mr Fienberg said.

“If we were to plant one million tonnes at $35/ha — that’s a really good story.”

However, it will take a whole-of-industry effort to capitalise, including further work and development on varieties. “If we can provide a strong market, then I’m sure growers will respond, ” Mr Fienberg said. “But I do feel the way we grow lupins needs to be refreshed.”

Further shipments are set to continue on the back of the success of the first 22 tonnes, with demand strong enough to export 50,000 tonnes of dehulled lupins within the next year.

However, those plans could be dented by this season’s big dry, with the volume of all grains falling below average.

“Will we get 50,000 tonnes this year? It’s early days but … this year is going to be a struggle, ” Mr Fienberg said, adding growers were likely to hold back lupins.

“If they are holding lupins on-farm, then we would like to get access to them.”

Mr Fienberg added that the project had been a whole-of-industry initiative, with particular support from Mingenew grower and CBH director Clancy Michael.

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