Vegetable food waste gets a second life

Published: 19 September 2022
Celebrating the launch of Nutri V with Matt Genever, Interim CEO Sustainability Victoria; Michael Weldon, chef; Matthew Hilakari, Labor candidate for Point Cook; the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action; and John Said, CEO and owner Fresh Select.

Major vegetable producer Fresh Select is turning surplus vegetables – that would otherwise go to waste on farms – into vegetable powders and snacks, giving food waste a second life. With the support of a $500,000 grant from Sustainability Victoria’s Circular Economy Business Support Fund, Fresh Select has established a vegetable processing hub at its Werribee South farm. The Fund is one of 2 funding programs provided through Sustainability Victoria’s Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC).

Matt Genever, Sustainability Victoria’s Interim CEO said, ‘With food and food products contributing 2.4 million tonnes of waste in Victoria each year, this project demonstrates how we can rethink our food waste and turn it into a valuable resource.

‘It’s also an excellent example of CEBIC’s role in bringing together businesses, peak bodies and government to collaborate and develop new solutions to design out waste.’

Helping the drive towards a circular economy, the grant has been used to install a drying unit that processes vegetables and vegetable offcuts not suitable to sell, transforming them into nutritious vegetable powders. The powders can be added to smoothies, sauces, soups and used in muffins, cakes, breads and other baked goods to boost vegetable intake.

The facility has the capacity to transform almost 8,000 tonnes of surplus vegetables and vegetable offcuts every year into new food products and will create 11 new jobs. These products will then be commercialised by Nutri V, a collaboration between Fresh Select and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

Importantly, the innovative facility will help local growers create new revenue streams, save costs, and keep food waste from landfill, while also creating nutritious new products.

Launched on 29 August with the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action, the facility is the first of its kind in Victoria, with hopes the technology can be scaled up and expanded to other vegetable producers across Australia.

Fresh Select is one of the largest producers of lettuce and vegetables like broccoli and cabbage in Australia, with operations across Australia.

Learn more about the project