About 20% of the grape material—including the seed, stalk, and skin, collectively known as the pomace—wind up in landfills. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates this amounts to about 14 million tons per year.
Changmou Xu of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is looking at new uses for pomace, including seed oil and natural antioxidant polyphenols for food additives, pharmaceutical products, or cosmetics.
“If we can figure out how to turn grapes into a renewable resource, not only would it add value to the grape industry, but it would also minimize the environmental impact of grape production,” Xu tells The Independent.
Xu was able to use grape polyphenols to reduce the formation of acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen, by 60%, and to create an antimicrobial agent that inhibited pathogen growth in food.