AN ATTEMPT to diversify took a cold turn at Mackay’s Bananas seven years ago, when the family operation kicked off their war on waste.
Mackay’s Bananas Cameron Mackay said waste was always a big concern within the business.
Bananas not suitable for sale, including those that are discoloured or blemished, are now taken to processing sheds, ripened, peeled, and frozen for sale – mostly selling to bakeries.
Mr Mackay said while waste would traditionally go into the paddock as compost or to feed cattle, the family devised a way to monetise it - and is now in the process of expanding the freezing operation.
“We do 10kg boxes of pulp bananas, freeze it, and that product then is sent on to processors - mainly bakeries, so most of that product goes into your banana bread, or muffins, or the like,” he said.
“It's certainly a line that is growing.
“Processing of the waste product of fresh produce is certainly growing worldwide.”
He said after seven years of developing the frozen product and marketing it, it is finally coming into its own.
”It’s not something that happens overnight,” he said.
“Finally in the last 18 months we’re at a point where it's a substantial, solid market that's there week-in, week-out.
“It's moving well enough now that we're at a point where we're considering further investment to actually expand that operation and make sure we make use of all our waste if possible.
“There is still waste on farms that we don't get in, but we certainly try to make as much use as possible of that product, whether it's frozen, freeze dried, or down making it pasteurised.”
The operation also creates a lot of local employment, with two shifts each day working to peel, package, seal, and freeze the end product before it is trucked out.
Mr Mackay said what started as a small diversification project has since become a large part of the business, and he is hoping to continue to grow it within the marketplace, and continue to create more options for banana waste product.
He said while it did take time for the idea to gain traction to processors, it was now growing more and more popular.