A Plant & Food Research effort to match up food processors grappling with waste byproducts with innovators seeking animal feed solutions will help keep thousands of tonnes out of landfills in coming years.
The research agency is using the Canterbury region as the test bed for a database to match up processors with potential end users, with a view to eventually rolling out the project nationally.
Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Richard Edmonds said it is estimated that every year over 200,000t of food production byproducts are generated in New Zealand and could be redirected through the match-up database.
“The byproducts of food production, such as seeds, stalks and low-grade produce, are generally viewed as waste, but can hold value for other uses.”
He said the waste stream is highly variable by region and by type, and includes materials as diverse as arable crop dry waste and vegetable production processing waste.
The feed industry will typically use a technique known as linear programming to determine the cheapest feed source combinations for operations including pork and poultry rearing.
“But with the project we are getting down to the low-value materials where the cost of transport becomes important, and we aim to incorporate that into it as well.”
Feed for aquaculture is one growth area the researchers have identified as a non-typical area for waste diversion and use, particularly now that the government has endorsed it as a growth area.
Kicking off the project in Canterbury makes sense given the region’s diverse land use and resulting mix of waste products available, and a poultry feed is likely to be the first development from the trial.
Edmonds suspected the greatest demand will be for waste stream products that contain levels of protein useful for animal consumption. However, researchers are also hopeful the database match up will reveal waste that contains bioactives and enzymes also of nutritional/health value in feeds.
One example is grape skins and seeds left over from the wine industry.
The scientists will be contacting organisations over coming months to join their database as the first step to resource sharing. The database will then use all available data to link potential users with byproduct suppliers.
Plant & Food Research have collaborated with AgResearch, Scion and Callaghan Innovation on the project.