Premium South Australian ‘vodka on the rocks’ anyone? 

As the convenience food and pre-prepared meals sector gains momentum, there is a high demand for ready-to-eat vegetables, including potato. Value adding processors peel a large volume of potatoes to package as ready to roast, or to produce potato-based foods including fries, hash browns and crisps. Due to the large-scale production volume and commercial processing equipment used, this can result in 10-20 per cent of the product (including peel and some pulp) being removed in the peeling process.

In most instances this peel/ pulp is dispatched as cattle feed at little or no value. There is a significant level of waste in commercial peeling due to the nature of equipment used, this can be anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of each potato. To address this Potatoes South Australia has partnered with The University of Adelaide and Adelaide Hills Distillery to explore opportunities for waste valorisation into value-added product in the form of premium beverage spirit.
With funding from Primary Industry and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) and industry through the South Australian Potato Industry Trust (SAPIT), the project to date has focused on optimising the sugar conversion, extraction, fermentation and distillation of various industrial potato waste streams including peel, pulp and starch waste water.

Compositional analysis of both feedstock and distillate fractions are underway and will inform the optimisation of processing methodologies required for subsequent batch and pilot trials to obtain spirit(s) with the required quality attributes. These spirits are scheduled for assessment by sensory evaluation studies in the latter phases of the project which will be finalised by mid 2018.