Horticulture Innovation Australian and the CSIRO are teaming up to reduce waste, attempting to turn imperfect-looking vegetables into nutrient-rich snacks and supplements.
The joint project seeks to investigate how good nutrients can be drawn from carrots, broccoli and other vegetables to limit the amount of produce left in the field and off-cuts left behind during processing as a way to ultimately increase vegetable consumption.
‘‘This project is addressing both these issues by determining a way we can turn under-utilised produce — such as ugly vegies that are not to specification — into high-value, super high nutrient ingredients and products,’’ Horticulture Innovation Australia chief John Lloyd said.
As part of the project, which is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia and vegetable levies and funds from the Federal Government, 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, with fermentation a significant area of focus.
‘‘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,’’ CSIRO chief research scientist Mary Ann Augustin said.
The project will also explore whether there is interest in setting up processing hubs in key growing regions to make it easier for growers to process under-utilised produce and create the nutrient-dense products.
The project hopes to encourage new industries and employment based on new edible foot ingredients and products from the underutilised vegetables that will provide more returns to farmers.