Turning agriculture waste into new industries

4 September 2018

Plant & Food Research is part of a new AU$10.9 million research consortium that will increase the value of agriculture waste by turning it into new products.

Led by the University of Adelaide, the Research Consortium – Agricultural Product Development – has been granted AU$4 million over four years by the South Australia State Government through its Research Consortia Program. The University of Adelaide is contributing AU$2.3 million (cash and in-kind) with the remaining support coming from a range of partners.

The Consortium will bring together a total of 18 partners to develop high-value products from agricultural waste: nine South Australian-based companies from the agriculture and food sector, and another nine national and international academic institutions and industry partners.

“Agriculture is already a key contributor to South Australia’s economy but its huge potential to generate high-value products and create new post-farm gate industries has not yet been realised,” says Professor Vincent Bulone, Research Consortium Lead Investigator and Director of Adelaide Glycomics at the University’s Waite campus.

“Our agricultural and horticultural industries generate abundant waste biomass, which is currently disposed of at a cost to the producer, or only a low return. But there are compounds we can derive from this waste – a range of different ‘biomolecules' – that have high-value potential applications for their structural or health properties.”

Some biomolecules that can be derived from South Australian crop waste show anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer or gut-health properties; while others provide mechanical strength or texturizing properties in food, structural materials, lubricants and cosmetics. Examples include anthocyanins from apples and cherries, and chitosan from mushrooms for use in skin care products; sulforaphane from Brassica vegetables with potential benefits for diabetic patients; and cellulose used for composite materials.

This new consortium is an exciting development for the Australian horticulture industry,” says Dr Andrew Granger, Director of Research, Plant & Food Research Australia. “Plant & Food Research has a focus on whole plant utilisation - making sure every part of plants produced as part of our horticulture system generate value. This programme will support this aim and allow the horticulture industry to develop secondary streams of income from traditional waste streams.”

South Australian Minister for Industry and Skills the Hon. David Pisoni says: “South Australia’s agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the growth of South Australia’s economy.

“The outcomes from this major research consortia that includes local, national and international research institutions along with industry partners, will contribute to the creation of new post-farmgate industries through the development and commercialisation of value-added products from agricultural waste.”

A strong focus of the Consortium will be attracting students and researchers and providing training across multiple disciplines and industrial specialisations.

The Consortium partners are: University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, CSIRO, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Filsell’s Orchards Pty Ltd, Raw Nation Wholefoods Pty Ltd, AE Cranwell & Sons, Ashton Valley Fresh, JVJ Co Pty Ltd, Vanquish Technologies, SA Mushrooms, Coopers Brewery Ltd, Potatoes South Australia Inc, CarbOzide Pty Ltd, Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd, Plant & Food Research, Ingredion Inc (USA), Carlsberg Group A/S (Denmark).

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
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Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
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