What a view: lupin plant’s big impact
Sun Myung Group - Sun Kwang lupin processing plant
A 10-day journey across Japan and South Korea reached a pinnacle and dizzying heights in the final hours of this year’s CBH Grower Study Tour.
The WA farmers stepped into an elevator and found themselves on the rooftop of the largest grain silo in Korea and the biggest lupin de-hulling plant in Asia, if not the world.
The Sun Kwang lupin processing plant de-hulled its first lupins in 1987, nearly 40 years after its parent company Sun Myung Group, was founded in 1948.
CBH is the near sole lupin supplier into Korea through the processing plant, which boasts a silo storage capacity of 240,000 tonnes and a warehouse capacity of 35,000 tonnes. The feed grain mill also takes grain from a range of other international sources, including corn from the US.
From its base at Incheon terminal, a port-side location about 30km south-west of the South Korean capital Seoul, Sun Kwang processes up to 50 tonnes of lupins an hour.
The size and scale of the plant made it a highlight for Southern Brook farmer Kathy Saunders, who sells Jurien lupins to CBH.
“I thought Japan had it all, but when we got to the lupin processing plant, it just blew me away,” she said.
“The mill was so advanced. I was not aware that South Korea was such a big importer.
“Our lupins are all delivered to CBH ... so as someone who grows lupins, I just thought this was so slick and such an amazing operation. All of the equipment was just shimmering, and highly automated.
Standing on the rooftop and viewing the giant silos adjacent to the mill itself, was the pinnacle of the trip for Grass Patch farmer Judy Nolan.
She found herself looking almost at the rooftops of silos which stood between 48 and 56m high.
“I just thought it was really special to be able to stand on top of those silos... it gave a real perspective of the mill’s storage capacity,” she said.
“Those markets are keen to have an Australian product.”
The grower group was joined in South Korea by CBH’s coarse grains agent JH Lee, who last year sold 130,000 tonnes of lupins on behalf of CBH.
Through his business, JH Gene Corporation, Mr Lee helps to sell CBH lupins and barley to feed grain customers in South Korea.
Mr Lee said Australian feed barley was “very good” but was not price-competitive against Canadian barley.
He said this year had been difficult for selling Australian lupins in South Korea, with about 63,000 tonnes sold and another 20,000 in the immediate pipeline.
“In the past I have sold 330,000 tonnes in a big year... but the serious drought in the Eastern States (of Australia) means availability is low and the price is high,” he said.
Mr Lee said there was a significant growth opportunity for lupins to be sold in South Korea, but only if CBH could compete against soybean meal — which was about 200,000 tonnes a year.
“For feed, it is all about price rather than quality... sometimes feed wheat from the Black Sea has caused quality issues, but buyers don’t care,” he said.
Growers were joined at the plant by feed wheat agents PhilasunCo.
Its managing director Ky Cho said CBH had not exported feed wheat into South Korea in recent years, but there was “opportunity (for low-protein wheat) based on grain quality and price”.
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