Cutting waste & turning spud starch into dollars

Four of the largest potato producers in Australia have this week announced their plans to convert 100% of their potato waste into commercial benefit through their partnership with the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). 

The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce and The South Australian Potato Company have partnered with the Industry Association, Potatoes South Australia Inc. and the University of Adelaide to invest nearly $1m in research and development over the next three years.  

The group hopes to save up to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes currently going to waste every year.  

Chief Executive of Potatoes South Australia Robbie Davis said the project was a fantastic opportunity for Australia, particularly for South Australia given it is the largest potato growing state.  

We are seeing up to 40% of potatoes rejected because they do not meet retail specifications. At the same time Australia is importing 20,000 tonnes of potato starch each year, and it just doesn’t make sense that we’re not using these huge volumes of potatoes for alternative purposes,

Potatoes South Australia, CEO Robbie Davis

A major focus of the project is to develop an Australian potato starch industry which would provide additional revenue for Australian potato companies. 

The establishment of an Australian potato starch industry could potentially provide growers with $1000 a tonne for extracted starch instead of the current value of $0-10 a tonne for waste.  

“Potato starch is used broadly across the food industry, from bioplastics and packaging, to coatings and adhesives,” Robbie Davis said.  

“We also want to use the waste from the waste, so after extracting the potato starch, there will be further opportunities using the residual waste from this first stage.” 

Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Dr Steven Lapidge said he was thrilled to be working with some of Australia’s leading potato organisations in such a transformational project.  

“We’re looking to develop new products from current waste streams that will deliver additional profit to potato producers through domestic and export sales,” Mr Llapidge said.  

“Through investing in research and development we aim to deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project. 

“This project is exactly what the CRC is all about; delivering real benefit for Australian businesses across the whole of the value chain.” 

Robbie Davis is a graduate of the National Farmers’ Federation’s 2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

Tegan Scott

Tegan Scott

Is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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