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Hort Innovation Australia working to create healthy snacks with food waste

In a bid to reduce vegetable waste Horticulture Innovation Australia and the CSIRO are working with growers to turn imperfect-looking vegetables into nutrient-rich snacks and supplements.

HIA chief executive John Lloyd said the project was investigating how good nutrients, or phytonutrients, could be drawn from carrots, broccoli and other vegetables.

“Limiting the amount of produce left in the field and offcuts cast aside during processing is a priority for industry because there’s so much potential there. On top of this, Australians are not eating enough vegetables,” he said.

“This project is addressing both these issues by determining a way we can turn under-utilised produce — such as ugly vegies that are not up to specification — into high-value, super-high-nutrient ingredients and products.”

As part of the project, researchers are investigating the use of separation, extraction and stabilisation technologies to create products that can be sold as powders, concentrates or vegetable-dense snacks for children.

CSIRO chief research scientist Dr Mary Ann Augustin said research showed farms could lose up to 40 per cent of produce and growers were keen to see this stop.

For that reason, and because it has great health benefits, the fermentation of vegetables is also a significant area of focus of the project.

“Fermentation is a great natural way of delivering the good bacteria through food. We are investigating ways vegetables lost in the food supply can be processed and presented in a consumer-friendly manner because it has huge health benefits,” she said.

Dr Augustin also said feedback from growers was that processing plants needed to be more accessible as many producers could not justify the expense of freighting unused produce long distances.

They are also determining how much interest there is in setting up processing hubs in key growing regions to make it easier for growers to process their under-utilised produce and create these high-value, nutrient dense products.

The desired outcome is also to encourage new industries and employment based on products from the under-utilised vegetables that will provide more returns to farmers.

Read more at weeklytimesnow.com.au

Publication date: 6/29/2017


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