Words by Krista Watkins
When it comes to food waste, I’m certainly no stranger to redistribution, repurposing and value adding for on farm food that would ordinarily be thrown away.
With an expense of approximately $20 billion each year to the Australian economy, weighing in at around 7.3 million tonnes of food and contributing more than five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s an opportune time for real results in the evolution of over supplied food.
The easy alternative could come down to a mathematical equation “x population = x volume of product”, however when working with the elements as we do in agriculture no such equation will serve industry or its consumers. So how can we deliver consumers with the best quality fresh produce, allowing farmers to have their first-grade prices, yet create enough value industries with alternative customer bases so that the farmer can have their cake and eat it too? Well, I believe that at Evolution Industries we have created the ideal working model of a circular economy that not only delivers on environmental sustainability but also profitable economics from the farm gate right through to the customer.
Evolution Industries, the mother company behind growing indie brand Natural Evolution, focuses on the complete end to end solution for food waste. We begin at the farm level by working right through to delivering products that match consumer driven needs and wants, picking up partnerships with Universities and research institutions to unlock and register the superpowers of the products we work with so that we can best match them to make positive impacts on the lives of both humans and animals.
Evolution Industries has created its own opportunities for minimising food waste which started by using out of specification and over supplied green bananas. That idea quickly transformed from alternative gluten free baking products into Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) listed and functional complementary medicines in the form of Green Banana Resistant Starch, fetching better value returns, but also quantifiable results in the lives of the consumer.
Using our patented NutroLockTM technology, we’ve been able to reimagine food by creating time. Something that would usually only have a few weeks to months shelf life has been able to transform into shelf stable, secure food supplies with a deliverable on the nutritional value. In a private study commissioned by Natural Evolution in conjunction with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) we have been able to prove 20-50% higher nutritional value from our processing technology than conventional food processing methods. Creating a quantum leap in nutrition but also the ability to tackle masses of highly fibrous plant materials – the not-so-secret goal of making a marked improvement on food waste.
Since that time everything from sweet potato, broccoli, berries, mushrooms, legumes, herbs, pulses, citrus and even insects have been able to be transformed and increase useability opportunities in their timelines.
The unique approach takes a multi-product method, for example, sweet potato Vodka came about when we had some run off from the production line and the juice material posed a significant brewing potential. We trialled various methods and utilised pulp to create a secret recipe that delivers a unique and successful beverage market that is exploding in Australia and around the world. A sustainable brew that delivers supreme quality, which was recently announced as a Gold Medal Winner in the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
From the growers’ perspective the process we have created involves minimal changes to the existing production line in the packing shed. We simply utilise the already established out of specification or second grade process belts in the packing shed and collect into mega fruit crates. Like everything we do at Evolution Industries we are moving towards a new model which will enable us to serve our existing customer base and grow into new markets and categories.