Revealing a $20 billion bounty of untapped resources
Across the food value chain, food waste costs Australia $20 billion each year. Our region is one step closer to becoming a national leader in turning that waste into profit. A $132 million research organisation has been established – it was five years in the making, involves 50 industry and 10 research partners across Australia, and is set to boost the local economy over the next decade.
A $30 million Australian Government grant will enable the new Fight Food Waste Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) to undertake industry led research focused on generating value from existing waste streams.
The Murraylands and Riverland is at the forefront of progress, having served as a case study in 2016-17 for a South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) project to identify value chain opportunities that will now be pursued through the CRC.
“The SARMS project provided a helicopter view of waste streams that were occurring,” says Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Steven Lapidge. “We identified 200,000 tonnes of under-valued horticultural products and waste generated in the region each year.”
Bioprospecting and analysis of these waste streams has presented diverse business opportunities. With the help of researchers, producers can now explore value adding outcomes ranging from livestock feed to nutraceutical ingredients to bioenergy.
This news is timely, with growing consumer focus on food trust and origin, label transparency, and farm gate prices.
Potential boom areas include the nutraceuticals (supplements) industry, which last year imported over one billion dollars’ worth of ingredients.
“Half of these ingredients could be derived from surplus horticulture in Australia,” says Steven, who anticipates greater interest in sourcing ingredients locally.
By early next year the CRC will have established a Waste Transformation Solutions Centre with Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL), for producers seeking transformation options.
“It is estimated that the annual economic growth rate of the food waste valorisation field will be 28 to 35% in the next decade, so it’s an exciting time to get involved.”