Swisse aims to transform food waste into supplement ingredients to help slash Australia’s $8bn economic burden

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Swisse aims to transform food waste into supplement ingredients to help slash Australia’s $8bn economic burden
Vitamin manufacturer Swisse is throwing its weight behind the Australian government’s efforts to curb the country’s $8bn food waste burden by converting more local by-products and unwanted produce into supplement ingredients.

Simon Woolmer, the firm’s manager of government relations for ANZ, said partnering with the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on food waste would place the industry at the heart of efforts to tackle the problem.

The CRC includes over 20 manufacturers, suppliers and researchers, including from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).

"Food waste is a massive issue here,"​ said Woolmer. "It’s an $8bn drain on the economy, so the CRC will look at a number of ways to tackle this."

One solution would see a partnership between major fruit, vegetable and wine producers to turn by-products, and products not wanted by retailers, into supplement ingredients.

Woolmer said there would be considerable benefits to securing grape extracts, currently sourced from France, from local partners.

"Australia is a massive wine-producing country,"​ he said. "But at the minute, the by-products are at best fed to pigs, or at worst sent to (a) landfill at additional cost."

New bioactives

"We are very happy with the high-quality ingredients we get from France, but it would be good if they could complemented by items closer to home.

"There are similar issues with carrots and tomatoes that the supermarkets don't want. We would be very happy to source our beta-carotene and lycopene from these items."

As part of the programme, researchers at CSIRO are also working on examining new bioactives from high-wastage items such as broccoli and bananas.

Woolmer said such partnerships would hopefully drive down costs, but added: "This is not so much a cost-play as a quality-play.

"We want to position the nutraceutical industry to be a good corporate citizen and benefit the wider economy."

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