Hone TEK Program 2
25 Sept 2023
Justine and Mark Cohen are Victorian based entrepreneurs and have extensive experience in the wine, viticulture, hospitality, food, and catering industries.
Justine co-founded and co-manages an award-winning international wine trade company and is passionate about sustainable futures and opportunities to improve outcomes for Australian agriculture.
In addition, Justine is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company directors, holds a Masters of Agribusiness, is a startup co-founder, and AI Program Manager. Justine is passionate about sustainable food, plus the emerging opportunities to improve outcomes for Australian agriculture. She is currently undertaking a Diploma of Digital Technologies (Flinders University) Women in Wine cohort.
Mark Cohen is co-founder & partner, CEO Malesco Wine Broker, Blue Circle A.I., Company Director and Food Specialist.
Justine and Mark have a vision ‘To be the company that contributes to a circular economy and sustainable future by reducing waste in the agrifood system’. They see the importance of working in the circular economy space, developing new technologies to upcycle agricultural waste into the global agrifood system.
Over the course of the HoneTEK Program, Project Olea has now been expanded to incorporate Brewers Spent Grains (BSG) to complement the seasonality of olive pomace.
While the journey started with olives, and has been expanded to BSG, this has been a deliberate pivot, to work continuously through the year with fresh sourced product, rather than just what is seasonally available with olive waste.
The additional problem identified is that brewing requires large volumes of grain for fermentation (estimated at 1 million tonnes of barley per year in Australia). BSG is mostly collected for cattle feed, is highly nutritious with 20% plus protein, and is 85% of brewer’s daily waste. This is a low value waste product.
The solution is to repurpose the BSG into food products using biotech. The team has developed a process to incorporate micro-organisms into waste material to increase its protein content and value. Repurposing waste will add to food security for the future. The aim is to unlock valuable revenue streams, elevate waste up the food hierarchy, implement biotech to enrich proteins and supply growing demand. In terms of market size, CSIRO forecast that the Australian plant-based protein sector is forecast to grow from current product value of $140 Million to A$3-9 billion by 2030.
Our understanding of, and experience in the food industry, is behind our MVP strategy.
We look forward to continuing the journey with F2F.
Strategically, the future for Justine and Mark’s business is around:
· Biotech protein-enriched ag-waste.
· Sustainability and the circular economy.
· Collaboration with a research institution to proceed past the MVP.
· Co-locate fermentation production facility with BSG waste producer.
· Enriched mycelium for the food production market as an edible product.
· Mushrooms for industrial materials or textile products.
The teams experience in the food industry has helped to inform their 6-to-12-month roadmap, and will focus on:
· Sourcing local raw material
· Low/minimal cost of raw material
· 6-month setup and lead time for MVP revenue.
· Setting up a pilot plant / research program producing 500 kg/month.
· Scale-up production: manufacturing plant for protein conversion and food formulation
· Moving from MVP to value added products over a 2-to-3-year timeframe.
· IP is expected to be around the process and is likely to be patentable.
The biggest challenge for the business in the short-term is securing funding. In addition, management of the raw material is critical to ensuring that the final product is at a food grade standard. Shelf life is potentially short for both the Pomace and BSG feedstock.