Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) recently hosted a national ‘Turning Food Loss into Profit’ workshop. The workshop brought together industry, academics, individuals from Australia’s Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and representatives from the federal and state departments of agriculture. Agricultural industries covered included horticulture, fisheries, dairy, livestock and wine.

Hort Innovations’s Dr Brenda Kranz, Portfolio Manager of Natural Resources and IPM, and Philipa Lorimer, Portfolio Manager of Human Nutrition/Postharvest prepared a presentation on Food loss for profit in horticulture, which Brenda presented.

The presentation showed that the opportunities for minimising food waste, which according to SARDI costs Australian growers $1.72 billion per year, were possible at the farm gate and throughout the supply chain. Significant business opportunities to turn waste into profit are possible.

Brenda noted that:

  • Opportunities for turning food loss into profit are possible in using food that would have not made the retail floor in nutraceuticals, bulk food products, bulk industrial products, biofuel and soil amendments
  • Loss could be reduced by increasing consumer acceptability of ‘ugly’ produce as being of good eating quality and tailoring products to meet consumer demand, an example being the breeding of ‘petite cauliflowers’
  • Redesigning loss by using product in processed foods and bioactives, such as for flavour extracts and supplements could use products that would otherwise go to waste
  • Loss could be upcycled into useable non-food products, such as creating bioplastics from potato waste or waste as an energy source such as biogas and ethanol; and identifying emerging opportunities for R&D investment – an innovative example being that of using fruit and vegetable waste for 3-D printing material.

Hort Innovation has funded a number projects relating to minimising food waste, including:

  1. A value chain approach to horticultural product innovation (project AI13012)
  2. Production of fish feed from vegetable waste (project VG13050)
  3. Optimum vegetable portion size to meet consumer needs (project VG12094 )
  4. Identifying new products, uses and markets for Australian vegetables (project VG12046 )
  5. Extraction of bioactives from cannery waste (project CF07006 )
  6. Scoping horticultural industry waste streams to determine suitability for use in pet food manufacture (project HG08026)
  7. Commercial feasibility of banana waste utilization in the processed food industry (project BA09025)
  8. Innovative approaches to adding value to vegetable waste – Phase 2 (project MT06053)
  9. Increasing the opportunities for use of organic wastes in the Tasmanian vegetable industry (project VX99002).