WIDE OPEN AGRICULTURE SECURES $20M FOR PLANT-BASED PRODUCTION EXPANSION

PUBLISHING DATE

Regenerative farming specialist Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) has raised $20 million (AUD) (€12.66m) in funding which it will invest in building the first oat milk manufacturing plant in Western Australia and grow its Dirty Clean Food brand in Australia and South East Asia.

The company has received binding commitments from a mix of institutional and sophisticated investors who will subscribe for 26.7 million shares at $0.75 each to raise $20 million. Existing shareholders will be given the option to participate in a share purchase plan that will raise up to $2 million, Wide Open Agriculture said.

The share purchase plan issue price will also be $0.75, which represents an 11.8% discount to the company’s closing price of $0.85 on 24 November, the company, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, said.

Facility to manufacture the world’s lowest carbon footprint, oat-based drinks

The funds raised will be primarily used to create the first oat milk manufacturing plant in Western Australia, which will aim to produce the world’s lowest carbon emissions per litre of oat milk. The facility will produce oat milk and other plant-based milks under the company’s Dirty Clean Food brand and provide contract manufacturing services to private label customers.

The facility will provide Wide Open with the ability to rapidly develop plant-based milk products in response to customer trends and provide transparent provenance and traceability with ‘regeneratively grown and made in Australia’ branding, the company said. It is expected that constructing and operating the facility will also improve operational efficiencies and margins for Dirty Clean Food’s OatUP and other products.

Dirty Clean Food’s CEO, Jay Albany commented: “2021 has been a watershed year for Dirty Clean Food. We have demonstrated that there is robust consumer demand for premium, regeneratively produced food in Perth. We are now extending our reach nationally and into Asia. Even after nine consecutive quarters of growth, demand for Dirty Clean Food products – led by our carbon neutral oat milk, OatUP – has never looked better.

“As we progress towards 2022, we are excited to realise our commitment to create an advanced green manufacturing oat milk facility, the first in Western Australia. The plant will be a best-practice facility for green manufacturing and will provide Dirty Clean Food with scale and operating leverage as we harvest the best regeneratively farmed produce in Western Australia and share it with the world.

Scale up Lupin protein production

In addition to the oat milk plant, Wide Open will use funds to advance the scope and capability of its pilot-scale Functional Lupin Protein facility to supply the production of Dirty Clean Food’s high-protein oat milk and to supply food and ingredient companies with samples to progress from R&D towards potential commercialisation.

According to the company, it has already identified the site for the pilot facility and the first tranche of pilot equipment has been received. The pilot facility will unlock the ability to test the manufacturing technology to enhance gelation of the lupin protein and build new IP and know-how for potential trade secrets, know-how and patent applications, Wide Open said.

Wide Open said it will also conduct work to identify applications for fibre and other nutritional benefits from the lupin and explore trade secrets and application of the patented technology for other regenerative pulses grown in Australia.

Expansion plans

Finally, Wide Open Agriculture will also use the investment to accelerate its marketing strategy and existing distribution agreements to sell OatUP in Singapore and throughout Australian supermarket giant Woolworths’ stores.

GrowHub will purchase a minimum of $500,000-worth of OatUP and distribute it throughout Singapore in the first 12 months, Wide Open said.

Meanwhile, the Woolworths deal has an estimated value of more than $750,000 per annum with first sales anticipated at the beginning of March next year.

As part of this, the company will develop and implement a marketing strategy to support online sales and retail campaigns for its oat milk and new products in Australia and South East Asia.

Wide Open Agriculture managing director Dr Ben Cole commented: “Over the last seven years, we have positioned Wide Open to grow rapidly alongside global consumer demands for healthy, nutritious food and drinks that regenerate the planet.

“In the last 12 months, we have established the company as a leader in regenerative food and farming in Australia.

“As we increase our plant-based offerings, we know this segment is well aligned with our regenerative purpose and represents one of the fastest growing and most attractive markets in the food industry.”

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