Tech turns waste into farm profit

Gatton Star - - LIFE INTO RURAL - Cas­san­dra Glover Cas­san­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

FOOD waste is a huge con­cern for the planet’s ever-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, with five mil­lion tonnes of food be­ing wasted in Aus­tralia every year, cost­ing the econ­omy $20 mil­lion.

A start-up is us­ing new tech­nol­ogy to turn agri-waste into food of the fu­ture.

Freeze Dry In­dus­tries is turn­ing waste pro­duce des­tined for land­fill into a se­lec­tion of dried food.

Founder and CEO Michael Buck­ley said freeze-dry­ing left­over pro­duce was pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity for farm­ers to cre­ate ex­tra in­come while sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing food waste.

“We’re pretty much freeze-dry­ing any waste raw ma­te­rial,” Mr Buck­ley said.

“We’ve tried to show­case some early-stage prod­ucts – straw­ber­ries, ba­nanas, mango, ap­ples, pet food, even beef blood. There’s re­ally no lim­i­ta­tions.”

Freeze-dry­ing uses a process called sub­li­ma­tion to keep the prod­ucts fresh and de­li­cious.

“What we have to do is freeze the ma­te­rial, then use the suc­tion and vac­uum of outer-space con­di­tions to suck out the ice, which takes it away and leaves the per­fectly dry re­sult.”

Freeze-dry­ing sig­nif­i­cantly in­creases the shelf life of the raw ma­te­ri­als.

Peo­ple in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties suf­fer the most from food in­se­cu­rity in Aus­tralia, and Mr Buck­ley be­lieves freeze-dry­ing could pro­vide the so­lu­tion.

“We think to be able to make sure that every mum, dad and child gets a nu­tri­tious meal, it has to be­come more af­ford­able and con­ve­nient,” he said.

“There are all sorts of health ben­e­fits and hu­man ap­pli­ca­tions, as well as (for) pets.

“A lot of our early days were spent in re­search and devel­op­ment be­cause it is a rel­a­tively new in­dus­try for Aus­tralia.”

PHOTO: CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER

FU­TURE FOOD: Michael Buck­ley from Freeze Dry In­dus­tries.

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