Gascoyne Horticulture Waste Survey  

It’s been a busy few months for the Gascoyne and the GPP is continuing to move forward and build our strength as the peak body representing the region’s seafood, horticulture, and pastoral industries. 

A big thank you to all those who have reached out with your support and amazing photos from your businesses and industries! Keep them coming!

In other news, the Gascoyne Development Commission (GDC), in partnership with Curtin University, has been building a Value Add Research Initiative, which is working to turn waste from Gascoyne fruit and vegetable production into profit for businesses and the community. 

The GDC is seeking stakeholder feedback on the Gascoyne Food Waste Value Add Research Initiative research and modeling. Your time to complete this short survey is appreciated. The survey will close Wednesday 17 October.

Gascoyne Horticulture Waste Survey  

More information about the initiative can be found here or you can read a summary of the project below. 


Alys, Paul and Scott

Devouring inefficiencies; Food Waste and the Gascoyne

Staff at the Gascoyne Development Commission (GDC) have been researching ways to innovate 17,000 tonnes of wasted Gascoyne fruit and vegetables to create profit and jobs. 

Capitalising on climate, geography and marine bioregions, the Gascoyne has emerged as a diverse delicatessen of exceptional food for its discerning customer. With a view to developing investment opportunities and maximizing profitability, staff at the GDC asked “what happens to the food that doesn’t make it to market?” 

Measuring waste levels and investigating methods to reduce these food waste inefficiencies will ultimately drive economic, social and environmental benefits for the region. It has been the Commission’s job to apply business case scrutiny to help find an answer.

Coupled with escalating global demand and changes in consumer behaviour, one of the biggest opportunities for the region is the expansion and diversification of the agribusiness sector. Innovating waste inefficiencies can contribute to the return to domestic food processing amid biosecurity risk, while capitalising on Australia’s clean/green reputation. For the Gascoyne, strengthening brand and provenance awareness, diversifying industry, creating employment opportunities and eradicating fruit fly are also critical motivators. 

Value-add to food waste

The Value Add Research Initiative, a partnership between the Commission and Curtin University, has taken a nuanced approach considering the Gascoyne’s distance to market, comparatively low production rates and limited existing infrastructure, while taking advantage of grower, industry and community local knowledge.

Dr. Janet Howieson and Dr. Kelly Burns from Curtin University have identified that in Carnarvon, the total annual farm yield for tomato, mango, banana, capsicum, honeydew melon and zucchini is 44,000t. Presently, 32,119t (73%) is harvested and 21,092t (66%) of harvest makes it to fresh sales. The remaining Carnarvon Horticulture food waste takes the form of;

  • unharvested product (8,310t or 19% of annual farm yield, of which 70% is edible)
  • packing shed discards (4610t or 12% of annual farm yield, of which 82% is edible)
  • 2nd grade (~60% of seconds) valued under breakeven price and therefore not sold at market (3,850t or 14.5% of annual farm yield, of which 100% is edible)

Simple Value-Add Factory Trials

Factory trials of a simple value add model (identified as having the greatest potential to form a viable business case) addressed issues around processing and packaging, quality, shelf-life, the addition of preservatives, potential problems and associated recovery. The process has also highlighted the potential challenge of a cooperative/collaborative management structure, investment risk, previous unsuccessful business plans, inherent costs and the unpredictability of horticulture waste due to seasonality.

A pulp, juice, pre-prepared and/or frozen simple value add to consistent supplies of tomatoes, melons and bananas targets horticulture with the highest production volumes, largest waste streams and longest seasons.

Horticulture Processing Facility

Data collected through these prefeasibility studies and factory trials has been transferred to Horticulture Processing options, which according to Herve Calmy from Calmy Planning and Design says, “Are ideally undertaken at a specialised facility complete with modular, multi-sector equipment. Ultimately a Carnarvon Horticulture Processing Facility would be energy efficient, comply with food and health regulations and streamline access for the incoming supply chain and the outgoing market transport. It would be constructed to be flexible, adaptable and capable of expansion if and when supply increases.”

Financial analysis by Ridge Partners’ Ewan Colquhoun has resulted in business case confidence levels of 90%, with 62% throughput, for both a base case (not including unharvested farm yield) and high-yield case (including unharvested farm yield) have been modeled on conservative assumptions. Melanie Foxley, Acting Regional Manager who has been driving the project from its inception says, “The Gascoyne Development Commission is currently engaging key stakeholders and local community members for feedback which will be used to finalise the model to establish a pilot processing facility in Carnarvon.”

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