Waste forum plants sweet seed for success
  • Wednesday 08 July 2015

If you’re a sucker for strawberries (and who isn’t?) you’re in for a treat, with a number of new niche products now in the pipeline as a result of last month’s strawberry waste forum at Beerwah.

The forum was facilitated by Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Strawberry Association. It also involved local growers, food industry businesses, technologists and suppliers to the strawberry industry.

Maleny Cheese Director Sara Bucher was among the forum attendees and said it had planted the seed for a range of new products that could reduce the amount of fruit currently going to waste.

“Throughout September, locally sourced fresh strawberries will be a big feature on our seasonal menu,” she said.

“We’ll be including options for more strawberries on our house specialty cheese platter and we’re also currently working on some fantastic new creations like milkshakes, cheese cakes with locally sourced Sunshine Coast strawberries.

“We are also looking to investigate partnering with a like-minded local, branded grower and developing a new ‘Gourmet Strawberry Yoghurt’ which will be promoted for its local grower link as well as being delicious!

“Turning  food waste into valuable co-products has been an approach Maleny Cheese has used since its inception 11 years ago and in keeping with our ‘zero waste’ approach, we’d like to utilise 'spoiled' local strawberries at our local dairy as another feed supplement for our dairy cows.

“We currently make use of the whey from our cheese making to produce a very nutritious supplement for our cows.

“Showcasing locally produced strawberries during the peak season of production is a delicious way to use regional fruit at its best. If cafes across the Coast were to all take this approach at this time, it would help strawberry growers right at the time that they need and would help stem the amount of fruit growers are forced to dump due to excess volumes.”

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said it was fantastic to see the June 10 forum unearthing new opportunities for the strawberry industry.

“About a quarter of all strawberries grown in Queensland are grown right here on the Sunshine Coast but sadly a lot of that fruit is going to waste,” Cr McKay said.

“Council helped to facilitate this forum in an effort to reduce the amount of edible waste and stimulate some discussion and interest in the development of new products or value-adding to existing strawberry products.

“It’s fantastic to see local food and agri-businesses like Maleny Cheese and others are really embracing this challenge and coming up with some terrific ways to maximise our precious food resources.

“It’s also great news for consumers who can look forward to some new and exciting products in the near future involving strawberries.”