Brothers’ snack business lupin ahead

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Dowerin farmers Glen and Todd Quartermaine.
Camera IconDowerin farmers Glen and Todd Quartermaine. Credit: Cally Dupe

Dowerin farming brothers Glen and Todd Quartermaine’s love of lupins is going global.

The pair’s new sweet lupin chip snack products have officially hit the shelves in Thailand and Australia, a significant step for their business WA Lupins.

In Thailand, Pinare Lupin Chips are now for sale at more than 20 gyms through a health and fitness distribution company that sells high-protein snacks to gyms and online.

The brothers believe they have tapped into a valuable market, with more than 1000 gyms in the Bangkok metropolitan area alone.

The Pinare Lupin Chips are also expected to hit the shelves at several Bangkok’s health food chain Lemon Farm stores later this month.

Between harvesting their 5500ha cropping program, about a quarter of which is lupins, the brothers have been hitting the pavement to meet with independent retailers in WA.

So far, they have secured stockists Wholefood Circus in Shenton Park, Hills Fresh in Mundaring, and The Rusticana in Bunbury.

The trio hope to stock the products, a blend of WA lupins and Thai Jasmine rice, across a wide network of independent retail stores in WA.

WA Lupins has now launched eight products under three brands — Pinarie Lupin Chips snacks, Supermood Lupin Snacks and You Cook food ingredients.

Pinarie Lupin Chips snacks, targeted at health-conscious consumers, include two types — salt, and onion and chive.

Supermood Lupin Chips, an everyday snack, includes tom yum, sour cream, and onion-flavoured rings in a similar shape and texture to cheezels.

The You Cook range features four food-ingredient products; split lupins, lupin crumb, lupin flour and lupin flakes for cooking.

Only about five per cent of the about 500,000 tonnes of the lupins produced in Australia each year is used for human consumption, the rest being for stock feed.

Glen, who crops about 1300ha of lupins a year, said demand for the iconic WA pulse could rise as consumers became aware of lupins’ nutritional benefits.

Two years ago, the brothers started talks with Perth–based ATQ Consulting & Advisory managing director Daniel Marshall.

He helped them find their silent, Thai joint venture partner and kickstarted talks to create a branded range.

Together, they have created the lupin products — a nearly 50/50 blend of WA lupins and Thai rice.

The trio exhibited at Perth’s Good Food and Wine Show in August, to garner feedback from WA consumers and promote lupins as a human food product.

Perth-based ATQ Consulting and Advisory managing director Daniel Marshall, with Dowerin farmers Glen and Todd Quartermaine at the Perth Good Food and Fine Show.
Camera IconPerth-based ATQ Consulting and Advisory managing director Daniel Marshall, with Dowerin farmers Glen and Todd Quartermaine at the Perth Good Food and Fine Show. Credit: Liz Packwood

The positive response gave them the confidence to start pitching the lupin snack products to retailers in Perth and regional WA.

“The response from WA consumers and retail store owners was amazing, with interest and positive feedback,” Mr Marshall said.

“The number one thing I hear in my travels, is there is a very low awareness and understanding of lupins from WA. We are seeking to change that.”

It was the second trade show for WA Lupins, after first unveiling their products at Bangkok’s THAIFEX food and beverage trade exhibition in May.

Mr Marshall said the trio had received “several expressions of interest for lupin based food products and ingredients” since then.

“However, the immediate focus for us is scaling up production and commencing sales in WA, Australia and Thailand,” he said.

“We will follow up distribution and sales in target export markets next year.”

As well as scaling up and exploring other markets, the trio are now discussing creating oriental, gluten-free lupin noodles and lupin protein concentrate and isolate.

They also see potential to create biodegradable packaging using lupin shells, to house their lupin food products.

WA grain farmers planted 350,000ha of lupins this year, after producing 575,000 tonnes of lupins last year, up 26.7 per cent on 2017.

WA Lupins is are not the first company to try and sell lupin products for human food, but the industry has a chequered history in WA.

In 2016, The LupinCo was formed to deliver WA-grown-and-processed lupins to the domestic and international markets.

TLC sources WA lupins grown exclusively by its farmer shareholder members.

Last year, Mullewa farmers Tanya and Robert Kitto launched their lupin flour products into the growing gluten-free market.

In 2016, grain handler CBH shut down its award winning Lupin Foods Australia business after three years of operating, after failing in attempts to find a buyer.

To locate a stockist or order online, visit the WA Lupins website when it becomes live later this month.

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