The Creating Value from Vegetable Waste workshop, delivered by CSIRO with funding from Horticulture Innovation Australia under project VG15076, was designed to help address the $1.8 billion of food that is not used along the supply chain each year. The workshop involved a range of growers, industry leaders, CSIRO personnel, as well as representatives from RMCG, focused on the carrot and broccoli industries which waste an approximate 31% or $40 million of product each year. This waste although just as nutritious as its supermarket shelf counterparts fails to meet specifications due to its size, shape and blemishes.
The CSIRO have designed a range of different techniques to convert this waste into value added, marketable products, including: stabilisation and transformation, separation, and fermentation of fresh vegetable matter. These processes, that result in powders, extruded snacks and juice concentrates would be shelf stable, functional and hold very similar nutrient densities to fresh vegetable products.
This project is strongly aligned to the Australian Government’s National Food Waste Strategy, which seeks to half food wastage in Australia by 2030, as well as being driven by the fact that only 15% of Australians consume the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. The push to design market friendly, nutrient rich products to help reach these consumers was a significant part of the workshop. RMCG was able to offer its extensive knowledge in horticultural industry development, as well as providing insight into engagement techniques along the supply chain.
Although further research must be conducted to ensure the optimisation and marketability of the products, the concept and production techniques behind them are a massive step in the right direction to reducing waste and value adding along the production chain. The CSIRO researchers offered an exciting viewpoint into the future development and utilisation of wasted food products.