Fighting food waste one carrot at a time

By Ciara McDonnell and Aarti Tobin, CSIROMarch 25th, 2021

It's a case of down the hatch instead of down the drain for carrot pulp thanks to a new way of using it for burger patties.
A lush green Kagome field of carrots. Image by Kagome

A Kagome field of carrots. Image by Kagome

We all know carrots are highly nutritious vegetables, full of fibre and health promoting micro-nutrients. It’s not surprising then that the good old carrot has had a boom in demand over the past several decades as consumers seek greater convenience and healthiness in the foods they buy.

One such product is carrot juice – tasty, on-the-go and nutritious, consumed either alone or blended with other fruit and vegetable juices.

Australia’s largest tomato processor, Kagome, is based in prime farmland in Echuca on the Murray River, Victoria. They’ve diversified into carrot, beetroot, pear and apple, and now produce juice concentrates, pulps and pastes for inclusion in a range of food products.

Adding value to carrot pulp waste

A by-product of carrot juice concentrate manufacture is pulp. Twenty five per cent of the carrot remains behind as pulp and although it contains nutrients and fibre, with no way of using it in bulk, it’s traditionally been lost as waste.

However, this ‘waste’ is not only food waste going down the drain (as well as the resources such as fuel and fertiliser going into growing the food), its value going down the drain.

Kagome has innovated by drying the pulp into a stable and versatile powder. Over the past year they’ve worked towards perfecting a drying process that converts 7000 tonnes of carrot pulp per year into 700 tonnes of value-added powder. They call the product Ninjin Fibre (ninjin is Japanese for carrot) and it’s now commercially available.

Turning the pulp into a powder reduces the storage space it requires and prolongs its shelf-life. The success of the drying process has meant Ninjin Fibre can find new applications in food products, nutraceuticals and pet foods.

Tractor in field harvesting carrots. Image by Kagome

Carrots being harvested. Image by Kagome

Burger patties with Ninjin Fibre

One such application we thought of was in meat processing and our meat scientists explored various ways the dried carrot pulp could be used in burger patties.

In our trials, we looked at the optimum Ninjin Fibre inclusion rates in beef patties and assessed its impact on patty colour, texture, cook loss, pH and other parameters.

Our research showed that Ninjin Fibre can replace 5-14 per cent of meat in patties, depending on the recipe. It can also act as a clean-label replacer for the additive, phosphate. Both Ninjin Fibre and phosphates bind water in meat products, which maintains juiciness.

In addition, our studies have shown that Ninjin Fibre can significantly reduce loss of juices and shrinkage when the patties are cooked. It doesn’t impact on meat patty colour, texture or pH.

In other words, we’ve shown that Ninjin Fibre can be a useful value-added ingredient in meat patties as it improves juiciness, reduces shrinkage on cooking, reduces the need for additives and partially replaces the meat component. As such it fits well with several key consumer trends, namely cleaner label foods, healthy and suitable for ‘flexitarian’ diets, while also helping to address global food waste.

Kagome are now speaking with meat processors so they can establish supply of this new value-added ingredient in the Australian food industry.

This project was supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme. CSIRO SME Connect is the national delivery partner for the program’s Innovation Connections service. Learn more at www.csiro.au/ep

 

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