We're looking at ugly fruit and veg to turn into nutritious snacks to slow food wastage, return to farmers, and make Australia healthier.

The monster mash. Some ugly vegetables just don’t get a look in. Carrots: Francis Mariani/Flickr/CC; Capsicum: Miran Rijavec/Flickr/CC; Persimmons: canieporci/Flickr/CC; Strawberries: sleepychinchilla/Flickr/CC

When you’re picking fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, do you go for the healthiest-looking, largest and most colourful option? You’re not alone. Research has shown 40, and even up to 60 per cent of farmers’ veggie crops are wasted along the chain from the farm to our kitchens and one reason is because they don’t meet shoppers’ expectations.

That’s a whole lot of perfectly good veggies — and nutrition — going to waste!

As part of an industry-led drive to reduce waste, we’ve partnered with Horticulture Innovation Australia to work with growers to turn imperfect-looking vegetables into nutrient-rich snacks and supplements. We’re investigating how plant-based nutrients, or phytonutrients, can be drawn from carrots, broccoli and other vegetables.

This project isn’t just about helping out farmers who don’t want to see their produce go to waste, it’s about getting Australians to eat more vegetables, because we just don’t eat enough. We hope to turn under-utilised produce — such as ‘ugly’ veggies that are not to specification — into high-value, super-high-nutrient ingredients and products.

As part of the project, we’ll investigate the use of separation, extraction and stabilisation technologies to create products that can be sold as powders, concentrates or vegetable-dense snacks for children.

Chief Research Scientist Dr Mary Ann Augustin says the project has significant potential. “We are investigating ways vegetables lost in the food supply can be processed and presented in a consumer-friendly manner because it has huge health benefits,” she said. Vegetable fermentation is also a significant area of focus as it’s a great natural way of delivering the good bacteria through food.

Long distance relationships are hard

Veggie growers have said that processing factories need to be more accessible as many producers cannot justify the expense of freighting unused produce long distances.

We are also looking at setting up processing hubs in key growing regions to make it easier for growers to process their under-utilised produce and create high value, nutrient-dense products.

At the same time as utilising wasted vegetables and providing returns to farmers, we’ll also be encouraging employment and the development of new industries

We do heaps of work to make food healthier, safer and more sustainable. Find out more about our projects.


This project has been funded by grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation, Horticulture Innovation Australia, using vegetable levies and funds from the Australian Government, with co-investment from CSIRO.  


  1. We need a recession to give people back the perspective they have lost. Too many generations haven’t really seen hardship like a serious depression. Today, for most workers, hardship means less entertainment or higher bills, or heaven forbid that they cut out Foxtel or lower their internet plan. An extreme would be a 3 bedroom house rather than a mini-mansion in the suburbs. Many more people need to understand real hunger, even if just for a short while, so that things are put back into perspective and we don’t waste so much while so many elsewherego hungry. And while we are at it, we should ban most pre-packaged and pre cut fruit and vegetables to save on so much plastic packaging and cling film.

  2. The $80 /t waste carrots fed to cattle transformed into carrot sticks for school lunch. This problem was solved by the wives of the company. A little bit of thinking outside the square .

  3. We are currently working on a primary food export hub in Wagga[NSW] . A food innovation hub is needed there.

  4. A great idea!

  5. Is it not time that we learned to accept imperfect produce as normal. For those of us who garden at home a “perfect” vegetable or fruit is the less common item. Stop calling veggies and fruits UGLY when they do not conform to some marketing executive’s idea of perfection. For goodness sake do not solve this problem by increasing the amount of processed food in our diets! Let’s just start educating the world at large that unless rotten or diseased all veggies/fruit regardless of shape or appearance are good to eat. For instance, let’s take a back step and have the “celebrity” chefs use the poor veggies described as ugly – I am sure that the improbable dishes they create will taste just as good.

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