Leafy green vegetable waste goes under the microscope for research project

The humble Broccolini is poised to be the catalyst for a revolutionary new approach to processing edible green leafy food waste in a research project involving some of Australia’s biggest food businesses.

Woolworths and Perfection Fresh have teamed with the South Australian Research and Development Institute [SARDI] and the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre for the project, as well as startup The Leaf Protein Company.

The project comes on the eve of Australia’s biggest food tech and innovation event, evokeAG, being held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 21-22 February.

It will examine the viability of using The Leaf Protein Co.’s proprietary technology to recover protein, fibre and other components from green leafy waste generated by Perfection Fresh and Woolworths.

Broccolini® is not only baby broccoli but a specialty variety grown in Australia exclusively by Perfection Fresh and their network of supply partners since 1999. In the process of bringing the product to market they remove and collect substantial amounts of broccolini leaf material which is packed with nutritional value.

Each Woolworths store collects a variety of leafy green vegetable waste from lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli that are most often outside leaves removed by staff or customers prior to purchase.

The protein and fibre enriched fractions resulting from the recovery process could be used by food manufacturers across a wide range of applications including biscuits, health bars and functional drinks.

State Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, the Hon. Clare Scriven MLC, says the project enhances South Australia’s status as a global leader in plant and agricultural research to drive environmental sustainability.

“This project perfectly symbolises what we’ve done very well in South Australia for decades: perform world-leading collaborative research that leads to innovative solutions for the agriculture industry with flow-on benefits for all of us,” said Scriven.

“This project features two world-class research organisations, SARDI and the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, as well as a small food tech start-up in The Leaf Protein Co., and major Australian food companies Woolworths and Perfection Fresh, all working together here in Adelaide to solve a food waste problem.

“South Australia is at the forefront of environmental sustainability, and this project is a testament to our commitment to reducing waste as well as creating new opportunities for industry and research.”

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge says Australia’s goal of halving its 7.6 million tonnes of annual food waste by 2030 will only be successful through collaboration and innovation in the R & D space.

“Food waste is an enormous economic, environmental and social challenge in this country – it costs us $36.6 billion each year, feeds climate change and occurs even though millions of Australians are food insecure,” said Dr Lapidge.

“The only way we can meet this challenge is by working together, and projects like this are a good example of what the Fight Food Waste CRC has been designed to do: identifying problems, and then creating the environment for the right industry and research partners to collaborate at the right time to conduct R & D that has real impact

“It’s particularly pleasing that SARDI is involved with this project and that the research is being done here at the Waite Campus. SARDI has a proud history of leading innovative agricultural and foodbased research in this State and we look forward to working with them on future CRC food waste reduction projects.”

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