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Great balls of protein: CSIRO & MLA turn red meat into nutritious powder

08 May 2024

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is adding value to the beef sector, turning red meat into a highly nutritious powder to give an allergen-free protein boost to snacks and beverages, targeting a $3.8 billion health and wellness market opportunity.

Taste testings of the innovation are on offer at Beef 2024 in Rockhampton this week, as CSIRO unveils its Just Meat protein powder which can be used in products that have mostly remained elusive to the meat sector.

The powder’s nutritional and allergen-free profile sets it apart from other protein powders on the market so it can appeal to a wide audience in products ranging from protein balls and shakes to energy drinks.   

The powder has the potential to grow Australia’s $75.4 billion red meat industry, by capturing more value from a greater percentage of the carcase.

Dr Aarti Tobin, animal protein lead for CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission, said the powder can be used as-is or as an ingredient in a wide range of products.

“The advantage of a meat-based protein is that it naturally contains all essential amino acids, as well as high iron, zinc and magnesium.”

“It’s mild in flavour and highly soluble so we’ve easily added it to snacks like sweet protein balls in our product development kitchen, with promising results to take to product trials,” Dr Tobin said.

“We're looking at new protein products to meet changing consumer preferences and which will play a big role in feeding a growing world population that’s set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.”

The protein powder supports food security by delivering meat’s nutritional benefits to remote locations or in disaster relief by overcoming refrigeration and transportation hurdles.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is an investor and collaborator in the product’s development.

MLA Group Manager Science and Innovation, Michael Lee said the product’s versatility demonstrated its potential to capitalise on market demand for red meat globally.

“There is a growing global demand for convenient and nutritious food as the world’s population increases,” Mr Lee said.

“Products like this meat protein powder can help to cater to this demand by providing a shelf-stable, easily transportable and versatile source of protein.  

“By converting meat into essentially a food ingredient this also creates another revenue stream for the industry beyond our traditional meat trading options.”  

CSIRO will work with commercial partners and investors to take the protein powder innovation to market.