THE clean and green by-products of the Australian wine industry are ripe for upcycling, and is the inspiration behind a new initiative from Swisse Wellness, the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre and Swinburne University of Technology.
As part of its sustainability commitment, Swisse is working with the Fight Food Waste CRC to transform surplus Australian fruit and vegetables streams, such as grape marc (skins and seeds) from the wine industry, into tomorrow's nutraceutical ingredients.
Swisse chief executive officer Nick Mann said the project would enable Swisse to source premium Australian grape seed extract from the 2020 vintage to go into local and export markets across Asia.
"From a Swisse perspective, this is a great opportunity to continue to deliver premium products, via an improved process," he said.
"To make a considered shift to sourcing our ingredients through a process which is aligned with our organisational sustainability principles and thereby having a positive impact on the environment, is a step in the right direction for Swisse and the supplement industry.
"We are really excited that this ultra-premium grapeseed extract will come from the grape seeds leftover from wine production in the growing regions of Yarra Valley and the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas.
"Additionally, as a Vic born and bred brand, it is a nice link to other local industry and to local agriculture.
"Creating a new ultra-premium tier in the market, using locally grown and processed ingredients will help further grow the category, while also benefiting the environment. This is a highly sought-after ingredient in the Australian nutraceutical industry with health benefits including collagen formation, skin health, and antioxidant activity."
Swinburne University is the research partner for the project, with project leader Enzo Palombo aiming to utilise 250 tonnes of Vic grape marc from this vintage in the production of grape seed extract for Swisse.
"We've done laboratory validation, technical feasibility and yield optimisation, therefore the next stage of commercialisation is establishing a pilot plant capable of producing the required quantity and purity of grape seed extract for Swisse," he said.
"Together with our industry collaborators, Viridi Innovation and Austeng, we will work towards producing fully traceable Australian grape seed extract for Swisse this season to go into their premium product."
Fight Food Waste CRC chief executive officer Steven Lapidge said the project had always been the "low-hanging fruit" of industry waste transformation, however it was not a simple project and it will only be delivered through collaboration.
"Through investing in research and development we will deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project while at the same time fighting food waste in Australia," he said.
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