Pacific Ag is a family-owned business growing potatoes in an area around 800 acres based in southern Riverina, New South Wales. They export 12000 to 14000 tonnes of potatoes to overseas customers. Due to the strict specifications and customer standards, not all of the produce is able to be used. As a result, a large volume goes to low value uses each year. In the last two seasons, this total average waste has been between 1200-1400 tonnes.
Developing suitable by-products from this resource will ensure Pacific Ag get extra value for the produce they are growing. It will not only reduce the problem of waste but also provide a significant value to the business. All of the graded-out potatoes which generally go to cattle feed at a low cost would be utilised for the extractions of useful components.
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Freshly harvested potatoes contain 78-80% water, 17-18% carbohydrate (mostly starch) and 2% protein. Given this low level of protein content and considering the processing loss, production of potato protein can only be economic when low cost, simple (unsophisticated) technologies/processes are chosen. Therefore, this project primarily focuses on delivering an optimal process for extracting potato protein from the Pacific Ag graded-out potatoes. This extraction will form a protein-rich slurry, that can then be dried to obtain the sellable potato protein powder.
The process of extraction of potato protein and conversation to potato protein isolate powder will give Pacific Ag a new business opportunity instead of a landfill charge. The potato protein has already entered the vegan market as a replacement for egg whites for mayonnaise, meringue, macaroons and much more!
RMIT will provide the necessary processing solution and training as part of this project. This will ensure that the extraction technique and production of the protein powder can be performed in-house by Pacific Ag to maximise their return.
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