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Valorization of Swiss Agri-Food Side Streams

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Food waste is a topic of concern worldwide as substantial amount of food ends up as waste along the food value chain. This represents not only a resource problem but also an environmental and economic one, on top of being a moral challenge for the modern society.

The production of food waste covers all the food life cycle: from agriculture production, up to industrial manufacturing and processing, retail, and household. In Europe up to 42% of food waste is produced by households, 14% pertains to food sector (ready to eat food, catering, and restaurants), 39% losses occur in the food manufacturing industry, while 5% is lost along distribution chain (agricultural food loss is not included in this estimation). A similar situation is also seen in Switzerland. Food waste occurs in Switzerland in estimated as 2.8 million tons per year where 20% is agricultural food loss, 28% is wasted by households, 7% by gastronomy, 35% in the food manufacturing industry and 10% is lost at retail level.

Among the food waste occurring along the whole supply chain of food from field to consumer, food waste occurring in the food manufacturing industry (side streams) has huge potential to be valorized since they occur in very high amounts in more homogeneous forms and contain diverse valuable components and building blocks. Today the side streams of food processing industry in Switzerland are mainly used for low value applications such as animal feed, biogas production or production of compost. A part is incinerated. Examples of main industry sectors in Switzerland and their side streams are starch based tuber, potato peel waste; grain based feed stocks, spent grain, milling bran; oilseeds, sunflower and rapeseed press cake; vegetable and fruit processing, apple pomace, grape pomace; meat processing, chicken feather, egg shells, gelatin; dairy processing, whey protein; others, used cooking oil, spent coffee grounds, cocoa bean husk or coffee bean husks.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 12 of the United Nations (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) and especially Target 12.3 (halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level and reduce food losses along production and supply chains including post-harvest losses) in Switzerland, actions have to be taken to valorize the side streams and decrease the food waste. Valorization of such side streams however require research to identify the potential valorizing steps and applications and to utilize such side streams to develop new valuable products. This project aims at filling this gap and identify the potential side streams, processes, technologies, and applications to pave the way to develop successful food and packaging products from agri-food side streams.