LOCATED at the north end of Shepparton, Freedom Foods Group is one of the region’s largest employers, with local residents making up the plant’s 300-plus workforce.
Freedom Foods primarily produces dairy products and nutritional ingredients at the $300M Shepparton site, with the company on the hunt for more locals to help its team meet demand.
One of its most valuable products is PUREnFERRIN™ lactoferrin, with Freedom Foods having the capacity to produce around 35 tonnes per year. The market price for high-quality lactoferrin globally is somewhere around A$1000-$1500 per kg.
Freedom Foods Group General Manager Nutrition, Dr Sonja Kukuljan, explains why lactoferrin is so important as a functional food – those with health benefits beyond their nutritional value alone – that it has earned the name ‘Pink Gold’.
“Lactoferrin is a powerful iron-binding, immune system protein that has evolved to work as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, which means it has immune effects against a broad range of bacteria and viruses,” said Dr Kukuljan.
“Lactoferrin has immune effects by competing with viruses for space on the receptors on human cells and in this way, seems to prevent viruses entering the body’s cells. If the viruses do get in, then lactoferrin seems to enhance the production of several important immune system fighting responses.”
While much of the world’s supply of lactoferrin is achieved through freeze drying, PUREnFERRIN™ is gently spray dried to preserve the native structure of the protein and retain its important functional benefits.
The protein also has well documented benefits beyond its immune system boosting activities.
“It has application in iron metabolism functional nutrition, in gut health, in bone health products and in skin health products,” said Dr Kukuljan.
With the domestic and global growth opportunities for functional foods over the next decade amounting to over $10B, according to a recent CSIRO report, the future is bright for Freedom Foods.