Utilising nut waste in the sandalwood industry to enhance profitability and sustainability
The Australian Sandalwood is a unique native tree previously wild harvested for its timber which is used for essential oil production. To meet growing demand, the industry moved to sustainable plantations over the last two decades. The Australian Sandalwood is now the most planted native commercial tree crop in the Western Australian wheat belt.
At present, most edible Sandalwood nuts from these Western Australian plantations are left on the ground in orchards to rot due to a lack of markets for the product, as they are currently considered a secondary product to essential oil in the overall plantation production schedule. In Western Australia alone, estimates put this food loss at 1,500 tonnes of sandalwood nuts per annum.
Currently, 15,000ha of Australian sandalwood plantations are reaching maturity, some 14 million trees, and so the time is right to address this food waste issue. The project intends to enhance the value, volume and continuity of supply of this food resource.
ChemCentre has been working closely with the sandalwood industry. They aim to develop new high-value products from sandalwood nuts and associated waste to eliminate food waste, enhance industry profitability and improve sustainability of farming practice. The preference is for a total harvest utilisation approach that prevents food loss by valorising nut and leaf material into high-value:
- Sandalwood nut products, whole or as ingredients
- Oil and expeller meal and isolates and concentrate products
- Hull product utilisations
- Integrated essential oil and food production plans
- Formulated products for the food ingredient and personal care sectors.
Chameleon systems will be utilised in the on farm traceability aspects and packaging of the final products as part of an enhanced electronic supply chain management system that supports supply chain and production optimised management.
This innovative project has the potential to improve the Western Australian sandalwood industry’s income by up to $57 million per annum. This is through improved valorisation options of currently wasted sandalwood nuts, new export markets for new products, products formulated and prescribed by medical practitioners for use in therapeutic outcomes, and the establishment of a certified international distributor program.
As this project progresses and achieves its milestones, we’ll share the good news on this page by adding information, links, images, interviews and more.