Food waste offers untapped export opportunity: ZimTrade

Zimbabwean businesses could leverage on trading food by-products and food waste as these present an opportunity for innovative entrepreneurs to tap into export markets.

The national trade development and export agency, ZimTrade, said this yesterday as it challenged local businesses to generate more export earnings. It said high levels of waste and by-products, which cause environmental problems and economic loses if not utilised effectively, can be exploited for greater good.

“For innovative entrepreneurs, these by-products and waste from food production can be turned into export ready products, earning them the much-needed foreign currency.

“This can contribute to the reduction in waste accumulation and result in significant financial benefits,” said the agency.

In most cases, ZimTrade said the above bio-materials have ample potential for generating food additives, which in turn would improve quality and taste as well as maximising on exports in Zimbabwe where it is produced.

Many of these by-products, especially from agro-based processing, are a source of valuable compounds such as proteins, lipids, starch, and dietary fibres,’ said ZimTrade.

The major raw materials used in the processed food industries in developing countries are fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and fish.

“Fruits like mango, pineapple, banana, grape, and citrus are crucial raw materials sought-after by food processors in Zimbabwe.

“However, in most cases, they are left with huge quantities of by-products such as molasses, shells, bagasse, fruit peels, trimmings, stems, bran, and seeds, which could be a game-changer for innovative businesses that can turn them into marketable products,” said the agency.

It noted that food wastes are also generated by, for example, damage during transportation to the local and export markets, and through storage and processing.

In addition, for some retailers, damaged agricultural produces do not sale better, hence they are sometimes returned to a supplier or sold at a lesser cost.

“What is required in some instances is for entrepreneurs to group themselves, use the knowledge they have acquired from learning institutions and value-add the less desirable by-products and food wastes into exportable finished products.”

In most cases, the size and type of equipment required to turn some of the food waste and by-products into marketable products is within the levels that are affordable to most aspiring entrepreneurs, said the agency.

It said the processing of by-products generated in Zimbabwe, for the formulation of novel foods, will directly contribute to job creation and the participation of entrepreneurs in regional and international markets.

“Along the chain, value addition of food wastes can also benefit exports development, food processing and packaging industries.

“The experience of Europe shows that although there is legislation aimed at promoting the use of waste in the production of biofuels, processing of food wastes and by-products as raw materials or food additives, could generate economic gains for the export industry in Zimbabwe,” said ZimTrade.–herald.cl.zw

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