Montague and Peters Ice Cream join forces to halt food waste by using ‘ugly’ fruit for plum sorbet

Imperfect fruit destined for landfill is being turned into plum sorbet in a joint effort by two companies to reduce food waste.

The sorbet is made from imperfect fruit grown in Montague orchards in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley and Swan Hill regions.

The company’s managing director Scott Montague says 20 to 30 per cent of Australia’s stone fruit ends up in landfill because of small cosmetic issues.

“This is a way to turn premium Montague plums into a great-tasting product and help reduce food waste,” he said.

Montague started looking at how it could prevent 500,000 kilograms of fruit going to waste in 2019.

The company worked with Melbourne university RMIT on the issue after obtaining a co-investment grant from the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre.

Jams and chutneys were created from lower-grade or lightly damaged fruit but it was the plum sorbet that excited the team the most.

“Montague’s got sustainability embedded in its culture, we’ve been nurturing our land here for over 70 years, so for us Rescue Pops is just a small extension of our food-waste reduction processes and our sustainability plans overall,” Mr Montague said.

Fifty-thousand kilograms of plums were in the pilot but it has the capacity to supply five times that volume.

“So much stone fruit in this country goes to landfill because we have high expectations about what fruit should look like on the shelf, despite the fact that they taste just as good as any other piece of fruit,” Mr Montague said.

The country head of Peters Ice Cream Emma-Jane Collins said it was the CEO of Foodbank Victoria who encouraged the two companies to work together.

“Dave McNamara thought it would be a good idea for our companies to come together and have a chat about the initiative that Montague had been working on. So we got together, had a conversation and we started working together from that point on,” she said.

Peters is striving to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Ms Collins said both Montague and Peters had similar sustainability values.

“What’s really important to us is to show our commitment to sustainability in any way we possibly can,” she said.

“It may be a small step, the journey is going to be long, but this is just one initiative that we can work on with another business to show how committed we are.”

All in the message
The packaging carries the slogan “too good to waste” and Ms Collins said a lot of thought also went into the name of the product, Rescue Pops.

“The name … really describes what the project is. To me, Rescue Pops just says it all,” she said.

Even though the plums had imperfect beginnings Scott Montague hopes the icy poles will be well received by shoppers.

“Rescue pops have a beautiful plum flavour. They’re not too sweet and my kids adore them,” he said.

Peters Ice Cream said it would consider extending the Rescue Pop range to other fruit flavours if the product was popular with shoppers.