Food Waste to Pig Feed: safe and biosecure

Australia currently produces 11.3 million tonnes per annum of food waste and diverts 3.9 million tonnes to animal feed. Of the remaining 7.3 million tonnes, up to 60% of the wastage is avoidable by directing it to food rescue and animal feed. These are currently the only two destinations that count towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030 under the Australian National Food Waste Strategy. A considerable proportion of the cost of rearing pigs in Australia is related to feeding. There is currently some use of manufacturing and dairy waste streams in the pork industry, but by and large, the use of other forms of recycled food waste, which potentially has a significantly lower input cost than other feed ingredients, is limited. It is estimated that currently, only 10-20% of Australian herds are accessing manufacturing waste, largely due to a lack of business-to-business awareness.

The Australasian Pork Research Institute Ltd (APRIL) considers the greater utilisation of food wastes to substitute current feed ingredients to be of high importance for the pork industry, and this project aims to:

  • identify food safety/biosecurity risks and strategies to mitigate perceived risks of utilising food waste streams into pig feed;
  • identify waste streams with the least variability in quality and quantity;
  • determine the economic feasibility of using food waste for pig feed in key regional production areas.

The major outcome of the project will be the generation of more information on food waste streams and a techno-economic analysis of utilising food waste (primary production, manufacturing, retail and hospitality/institutional waste streams) for pig feeds. Key to this will be addressing food safety and biosecurity issues in utilising a greater amount of food waste streams for incorporation into prepared pig feeds. Ultimately, the project hopes to reduce the ‘highs and lows’ of supply and demand (and hence cost) associated with traditional feed ingredients fed to pigs, thereby favourably impacting margins for pork producers and maintaining a high-quality product with good animal welfare standards and low environmental impact.

The Fight Food Waste CRC, a partner in this project, currently is offering a HDR Scholarship to support a full-time Masters student to be part of this project being led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute and The University of Adelaide. The role of the Masters by Research student will be to undertake techno-economic analysis of utilising food waste (primary production, manufacturing, retail and hospitality/institutional waste streams) for pig feed in key Australian regional areas. The analysis will provide greater understanding of the cost barriers for adopting new feed supplies and identify the cost barriers for entry. The Australian supply chain and pork industry requirements will be identified. Waste volumes, locations and seasonality will be mapped. Available infrastructure which could be utilised (i.e., feed mills, rendering plants etc.) for processing of food waste, and other infrastructure, such as, refrigeration and dewatering which may be required will be identified. This will be done in collaboration with the project research team.

For further information, please view the listing on Seek.com.au or view this scholarship opportunity on the University of Adelaide website.