Transforming banana waste into value-added products
Over 500 metric tonnes of bananas are discarded in North Queensland every week, with oversupply identified as a major threat to both banana farmers and other primary producers. Banana grower and food waste innovator Krista Watkins will be outlining how farmers can find new markets for excess produce at the Asia Pacific (APAC) Food Safety Conference.
Named AgriFutures Australian Rural Woman of the Year in 2018, Watkins will discuss how farmers can overcome supermarket demands for unblemished fruit by creating value-added products from their excess produce. Watkins, along with her husband, produces green banana flour on a global scale, having transitioned from being a farmer to a food manufacturer several years ago.
Watkins and her husband established Natural Evolution Foods after the devastation of Cyclones Larry and Yasi, to commercially produce gluten-free, green banana flour. Demand has reportedly increased over the last few years, as it is one of the highest resistant starch food sources in the world.
By creating another market for ‘unwanted’ produce, the solution is claimed to have saved on packaging and manufacturing costs, and processed over 90,000 metric tonnes of green banana waste. The company is now applying its patented technology to help others process foods which would otherwise go to waste.
In her presentation, Krista will discuss how she and her team can help other industries minimise food waste. “The problem of oversupply is not unique to the banana industry — it has been happening on farms throughout Australia, such as in the sweet potato and broccoli industry,” Watkins said.
“From broccoli, sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot and beetroot, we can create products for farmers who are grappling with the challenges of a flooded market and help them to take innovative and sustainable approaches to minimising their waste,” Watkins said.
Each year the APAC Food Safety Conference attracts delegates involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of food safety programs across manufacturing, foodservices, food science, produce and retail. The 2019 conference will address current issues such as food tampering, seafood fraud, food exports and emerging superfoods.
The 26th APAC Food Safety Conference will be held in Sydney on 20-22 August. For more information, visit: https://www.foodsafetyapac.com/.
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