Social Sciences

Help for small agribusinesses to turn food waste into commercial products

Food waste is costing Australia an estimated $20 billion each year, and Australians are throwing out nearly 300 kgs of food per person per year. In Australia, many of the two million-plus small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) struggle with food waste too, and it is difficult for them to tackle this without access to funding, skills and expertise to find the solution.

To address this challenge, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) is funding the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre, an industry-led grant program being rolled out by the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) in partnership with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). This $200k grant program offers matched funds of up to $50k to help SMEs find solutions to their agri-food waste challenges.

Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Steven Lapidge, said “this unique program will give SMEs the opportunity to tell the Fight Food Waste CRC their agri-food waste challenges and the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre research community will find the best solutions for them AND offer matching funds up to $50k to deliver solutions.”

“For example, you could be an SME in rural Australia that grows onions. You notice that 10% of your onions never make it out of the packhouse due to current buyer standards. If you apply to the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre, we will put your agri-food waste challenge to Australia’s best food waste researchers and our international connections to determine the highest value use,” Dr Lapidge said.

“We want to make sure that you have the best solutions available to tackle these challenges, including the necessary training.

“Food is meant to be eaten and I haven’t met anyone yet who does not feel guilty about wasting food. So, this is a solvable global challenge, and it is an opportunity for Australia’s SMEs to turn a waste stream into a new value chain and provide an additional income to their operations.”

FIAL Managing Director, Mirjana Prica, said “we are thrilled that the Fight Food Waste CRC program is building on FIAL’s own legacy initiative, the SME Solution Centre. This initiative addresses a fundamental gap in the way CRCs engage SMEs.

“It is our hope that once SMEs are introduced to the great work being done at the FFW CRC, they will invest further and encourage others to participate,” she said.

DAF Executive Director-General Dr Beth Woods said the FFW CRC is looking for applications that have a high commercialisation potential, with SMEs demonstrating a strong understanding of the consumer or market demand for a new product.

The Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre was officially opened at the Health, Food and Sciences Precinct, Coopers Plains in Brisbane.

Source: Fight Food Waste CRC