University of Adelaide partners to reuse waste from potato industry
The University of Adelaide will partner in a collaboration with Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre to enable four of the largest potato producers in Australia to convert 100% of their potato waste into commercial benefit.
The university is partnering with The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, The South Australian Potato Company, and industry association Potatoes South Australia Inc.
This partnership will see the investment of nearly $1m for research and development to save up to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes currently going to waste every year.
The lead researcher for this project, Vincent Bulone will conduct the research in Adelaide Glycomics, a world-class analytical centre for complex carbohydrate analysis.
The project is in line with the university’s industry engagement priority on agri-food and wine.
Commenting on this partnership, Bulone said, “There are different forms of starch in potatoes that can be used in different products. For example, existing research suggests that the less digestible starches in potatoes, the so-called ‘resistant starches’, can be used to make superior pre-biotics that help prevent infections.”
“Another known starch component can be used to engineer low GI foods, and the skins of the potatoes themselves contain bioactives that can be used for a range of commercial products like nutraceuticals,” he added.
Chief Executive of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis commented that this partnership poses a great opportunity for South Australia as it is the largest potato growing state.
She added that 40% of potatoes grown locally are rejected because they do not meet retail specifications. In contrast, the country also imports 20,000 tonnes of potato starch each year.
Davis reiterates these efforts to use the huge volumes of potato waste will make commercial sense to the industry – This project will mainly focus on the potential development of an Australian potato starch industry which would provide additional revenue for Australian potato companies.
This development could potentially see a $1000 a tonne for extracted starch instead of the current value of $0-10 a tonne for the waste.
Davis added that potato starch is used broadly across the food industry, for bioplastics and packaging, to coatings and adhesives. However, the project will also explore how the residual waste from the first stage can be used for other opportunities.
CEO of Fight Food Waste CRC, Steven Lapidge expressed excitement at this project. Lapidge said that his research centre is looking to develop new products from current waste streams that will deliver additional profit to potato producers through domestic and export sales.
He added that through investing in research and development, the research centre aims to deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project. This is in line with its objectives, which is to deliver real benefits for Australian businesses across the whole of the value chain.