The consumer stock’s expanded lactoferrin operation, located in Jervois, South Australia, can now produce up to 25 tonnes of high-purity lactoferrin every year.
To reach this capacity, the company installed and commissioned two new lactoferrin extraction columns, the operation of which has now been handed over to the Jervois team.
Beston has also investigated its own lactoferrin testing capabilities, a proposed efficiency that could dramatically minimise the current week-long turnaround required for external lactoferrin purity testing.
As the upgraded plant prepares for its debut, Beston has established two lactoferrin products for the market, branded as the Mediferrin and Trueferrin lines.
“Another major milestone”
Beston’s acting CEO, Darren Flaw, said: “This is another major milestone for the project successfully completed.
“As we advised in April, this second phase of commissioning activities focused on further refinements to the extraction process to optimise the Lactoferrin yield for the actual composition of milk being received.
“This has in effect been a calibration of the process to maximise the amount of more than 95% purity Lactoferrin that can be extracted from the skim milk feed to the extraction columns.”
Beston has already started processing lactoferrin at the revitalised Jervois plant.
Over the month of May, 100% of the company’s milk supply was processed through the extraction columns to produce high-quality concentrate.
The company hopes to receive 155 million litres of milk in FY22, which would allow it to produce around 20 tonnes of lactoferrin over the upcoming financial year.
Lactoferrin is an immune-boosting protein that naturally occurs in dairy sources like human and cow’s milk.
Colloquially known as pink gold, the protein can typically be used as a medical supplement to support women experiencing low iron levels.
More recently, however, lactoferrin’s antiviral properties have piqued the interest of scientists who are looking for new ways to combat COVID-19.
In 2020, a paper published in the International Journal of Microbial Agents concluded lactoferrin showcased in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV.
Even more promisingly, scientists found lactoferrin could act in a similar fashion against SARS-CoV-2 — the virus behind COVID-19.
Demand to jump
In recent years, the market for lactoferrin has boomed, with demand forecast to jump from the 352 tonnes per annum recorded in 2019 to 500 tonnes per annum by 2023.
However, the immune-boosting protein is expensive, with the average cost for a kilogram of lactoferrin now sitting between $1,500 and $3,000.
A large part of the price hike is the demand for high-quality lactoferrin, which can be used in medical products.
Chief operating officer Frank Baldi said: “Delivering production of more than 95% purity Lactoferrin in early April, so soon after commencing the commissioning of the two new Lactoferrin extraction columns, was a significant achievement and testament to the skills and experience of the project team.
“Since then, the team continued at pace to reach Practical Completion, despite the additional logistics and people challenges presented by the COVID-19 environment.”
The revitalised plant will officially open on Friday, July 30. Shareholders are welcome to attend.