SME Solutions Centre – Value adding to underutilised/waste pumpkin produce | Fight Food Waste CRC
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SME Solutions Centre – Value-adding to underutilised/waste pumpkin produce

The challenge

Pumpkin is one of the major horticulture crops in Australia and more particularly in Queensland. Australia produces about 120,000 tonnes of pumpkins worth approximately $80m per annum, of which Queensland contributes 40 – 50% of the total production.

Daintree Fresh makes a major contribution to the Australian pumpkin industry with a production capacity of up to 30,000 tonnes per year worth roughly $20m. About 20-30% of their total production, which is worth around $5m, is lost or wasted due to various reasons.Daintree Fresh currently has large quantities of under-utilised/waste pumpkin. They want to explore avenues for value-adding and to create an industry that is both profitable and sustainable.

Our SME plan

A range of high-value products can be created from pumpkins, including

  • Pro-biotic pumpkin juice and powder – this is a low-calorie functional product helpful in managing blood glucose levels particularly in diabetic people and also promotes gut and bone health
  • Pumpkin freeze and thermal dried powders – suitable as food ingredients, natural colourants and also for high-value health and pharmaceutical applications and for carotenoids (beta carotene) extraction
  • Carotenoid (beta carotene) rich extract– will be extracted from freeze-dried powder for high-end pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. This is a proof-of-concept trial only
  • Pumpkin seed oil – cold press oil rich in Vitamin E (tocopherol), suitable for nutraceutical and cosmeceutical applications
  • Pumpkin seed proteins – rich in good amino acids and can be used in health, food and beverage applications.

This research will explore ways to process and produce these value-added products from the volumes of pumpkin that currently doesn’t make grade. Existing, as well as new processing technologies such as membrane separation, freeze/thermal drying and supercritical fluid extraction, will be utilised to produce these products.

If successful, this research will help to value add to around 1000 tonnes in 2020, between 4000-6000 tonnes in 2021, and more as Daintree expands their market.  This will help reduce up to 70% of the pumpkins that are lost or wasted every year in Australia, both improving the sustainability of the industry and the operations of Daintree Fresh.

 

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As this project progresses, we’ll share the good news on this page by adding information, links, images, interviews and more.

Timeline

August 2020 – August 2021