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Engineering Value Added Sources to Manage Waste Sustainably

If anything is positive about the trending scale of global food waste, it is the tremendous opportunity for collaborations that can lead to sustainable improvements. A push to reengineer discarded food and other organics can lead to creative new projects.

Dvijal PATEL

Dvijal PATEL – Field Engineer and Food Technologist, Bühler Aeroglide

By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion. To feed this population, an increase will be needed on all agricultural subsectors. For example, meat and dairy will need to increase by an estimated 50-70 percent. This will be driven by increases in income, population and urbanization, all of which will impose a significant demand on the resources currently used in feed production systems. With this in mind, finding novel feed resources outside of current production systems will become increasingly important. One solution to sustainable production could include the engineering of value-added food waste, while applying best processing practices.

Pre-Consumer Food Waste
Approximately one-third of the food supply produced for human consumption worldwide is lost or wasted. Fruit and vegetable processing, packing, distribution and consumption in the organized sector in India, the Philippines, China and the US combined are estimated to generate approximately 55 million tons of waste. Just like food production systems, feed production requires a significant input of energy, nutrients, water, land and capital, and a large proportion of this goes to landfills or rivers, which can be detrimental for the environment. What many may not realize is that pre-consumer food waste can be further processed to extract or develop value-added products.

Fruit and vegetable production results in waste in the form of skins and other by-products. What is often considered waste can potentially be processed to become a supplement for the feed industry. The key is to know the waste product and the advantages it may bring to livestock. The addition of sugars, fiber, protein, and others cannot be overlooked.

Converting Food Waste to Feed
Utilizing pre-consumer food waste as animal feed represents the highest use, when it cannot be used for human consumption. For example, in the processing of apple juice, apple skins are frequently a waste product. Processing these skins can create a value-added ingredient for animal feed. Processing may also entail the treatment of seeds to remove chemicals that are frequently considered detrimental. In certain amounts, processed skins can be added to the diet of these animals, reducing the amount of waste generated, in addition to reducing the carbon footprint associated with growing food for livestock.

Banana foliage, such as skins, has also been used to supplement the diet of dairy animals. Approximately 15-30% have successfully been added to their diet. This results in a reduction of pre-waste food used to feed a growing demand for meat and dairy. Mango waste such as the peel and seeds, are typically discarded when mango products are manufactured. This waste can also be treated to remove tannins and cyanide and fed to ruminant animals such as pigs. Mangos are high in sugar and can also supplement the diet of these animals.

Corn is a major vegetable used in the US, and corn husks are typically discarded. Husks are a good source of fiber that can be used to assist general livestock. Converting these food wastes into feed offers great potential, introducing a more sustainable way to feed the world.

Solutions for Processing Fruit and Vegetable Waste
The challenge for the food and feed industry is to use its immense creative capacity to reengineer waste for both the developing and the industrialized markets. Reengineering feed processes can minimize losses, turn waste by-products into profit and introduce a new dimension of sustainable value.
Extrusion is a process where mixed ingredients are forced through a die to form a certain shape, using heat and pressure. Products that create dust or fines as a byproduct, have the opportunity to be extruded to form additional products for use in animal feed. An example of this, is byproduct made from root vegetables. Root crops have been used to make many different byproducts and extruded to form a desired shape such as a pellet, and introduced to animal feed.

Drying is the use of time and temperature to reduce moisture, increase shelf life and potentially combat pathogens. Drying a product that is considered waste, introduces an opportunity to create a new product high in nutrients. Removal of moisture can enable solids to keep nutrients such as proteins, fibers, and carbohydrates.

Furthermore, studies have shown that under certain time and temperature conditions certain pathogens can be reduced. The drying process uses heat and mass transferred between the air and the product. A dryer in a validated kill step has been shown to reduce pathogen numbers by five logs.

Reversing the trend, creative capacity of the food industry
If anything is positive about the trending scale of global food waste, it is the tremendous opportunity for collaborations that can lead to sustainable improvements. A push to reengineer discarded food and other organics can lead to creative new projects. Capturing this potential will go a long way toward addressing the growing concern for feeding the world’s populations. It can also generate new profits. The food and feed industries must first identify where waste and loss occurs, then apply emerging processing solutions to convert waste into value-added products.

Dvijal Patel is a Field Engineer and Food Technologist at Bühler Aeroglide. Patel introduces a valuable scientific perspective to food and feed manufacturing, working with customers to research and develop new products, design the most efficient thermal processes that can be scaled for volume production, and maximize existing processes through system evaluations and staff training.

In our previous article titled "FOOD SAFETY AND FEED INDUSTRY" information is given about "feed industry, food safety ve special cover".

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