Turning food waste into revenue

Wednesday, 18 July, 2018 | Supplied by: Monash University

The Monash Food Innovation Centre, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), is working with industry and farmers to help them transform food waste into profits while simultaneously improving their business model.

With more than $5.4 billion worth of food being dumped annually in Victoria alone, Monash University is using a holistic approach to ‘biomass valorisation’ to help industry extract high-value components such as the antioxidants, oils, pectin and protein from food disposal — ranging from mango, pomegranate and pineapple skin to spent coffee grounds and almond ash. This also extends to fresh produce that is disposed of for not meeting the ‘cosmetic standards’ of supermarkets.

Associate Professor Tony Patti from the Monash School of Chemistry said that this biomass valorisation approach, which looks at the entire fruit or vegetable and not just the part that is eaten or the juice extracted, is what currently provides the value to the grower.

“The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and offcuts were seen as ‘waste’, adding to their disposal costs. These by-products are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components identified as being of high market value,” Assoc. Prof. Patti said.

Monash is therefore working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify their potential market opportunities, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and pet-food industries. Fruits such as mangoes have a particularly versatile range of applications, with offcuts such as the skin, seeds and husk ripe for transformation into everyday health supplements, oils and even cosmetics.

“Using this research, food and agricultural companies can tackle costly waste challenges, improve their environmental footprint and create a sustainable business that takes full advantage of growing demand in domestic and export markets for high-quality food products,” Assoc. Prof. Patti said.

The Monash Food Innovation Centre and industry partners will discuss strategies of how food waste can be turned into revenue during the half-day symposium ‘Turning food waste into $$$’. To be held on 19 July at the Monash Food Incubator, within the Food Innovation Centre, the event will present attendees with the latest in science, research and technology to help them develop a food waste program with a focus on biomass valorisation.

For more information on the symposium and to register, visit https://www.foodinnovationcentre.com.au/event/turning-food-waste-into/.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Nomad_Soul

Online: www.monash.edu
Phone: 03 9905 4000
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