Dr Pablo Juliano knows a lot about food loss – the edible stuff that’s lost from the human food supply chain on farm, in the packing shed, at processing plants and shipping hubs.
A Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO’s Agriculture and Food division, he helms the Bioproducts Supply Chain team that’s working on an ambitious and innovative new project: developing a comprehensive picture of food losses – and potential gains – for Australia that could become a model for nations around the world.
CSIRO’s Food Loss Bank project, launched in mid-2017 and funded until the end of June 2019, is “still in its very early stages”, says Dr Juliano, but it has enormous potential to help turn substantial pre-retail food losses into novel food-product gains. Not to mention increasing our chances of being able to feed 9.7-odd billion people by 2050.
What is the Food Loss Bank?
According to CSIRO, its Food Loss BankTM is “a networked supply chain that takes the edible food loss biomass suitable for human consumption and classifies it, determines its origin, and facilitates its storage and diversion back into the food supply chain, ultimately to produce novel food ingredients/products”.
A terrific concept, but one that's complex and challenging to realise. First, Dr Juliano and his team have to map the lost food biomass across growers and processors in regional areas Australia-wide, “identifying food losses on farm, at the packing house, during distribution and processing [to] show us where and why food is being lost in the supply chain and help us develop food loss reduction strategies”.
The Food Loss Bank team is also collecting information on "strategies for loss reduction or value addition through transformation into stable edible foods that will become a new supply for the food/supplement industry". These include intelligent decisionmaking tools; new sensors; and new processing technologies for stabilising food loss materials and conversion.
First steps: collecting data on horticultural supply chains
One of the first steps for the Food Loss Bank project team is collecting the data it needs to plug into the food loss models already developed by CSIRO. Over the next three to six months, they'll be running online surveys for members of selected horticultural supply chains so as to “better understand the sources of lost produce and edible parts before retail”, and are encouraging growers, packers, shippers and processors from these industries to participate.
The more people who respond, Dr Juliano says, the more accurate that understanding – and the resulting models, maps and tools – will be.
Initially, CSIRO is running surveys with businesses across the broccoli, apple and then almond industries. Bananas are also "of great interest", says Dr Juliano.
The project team will use the resulting information to help map edible waste hotspots, potential storage locations, and suitable diversion and conversion sites.
Contribute to CSIRO Food Loss Bank's online survey
If you’re an Australian grower, packer, shipper and/or processor engaged in Australia’s broccoli, apple or almond industries with a spare 10 minutes to complete a short online survey about food losses in your business, CSIRO would love to hear from you.
The broccoli industry food loss survey officially closed at the end of November 2017 but if you missed the deadline and wish to contibute to the survey, contact CSIRO - the project team may be able to incorporate the extra data. The apple and almond industry surveys will close in early 2018, with surveys of other horticultural industries to follow.
To participate in CSIRO’s food loss survey, click here.
For more information about the Food Loss Bank project, visit the CSIRO Australia website.