Issue 1 ~ Mar-Apr 1997
Bushfood industry faces marketing challenge
Material provided by RIRDC and ANBIC
The Australian native bushfoods industry has been alerted in a report just published that unless demand is boosted there is a danger of over-supply of some bushfood in just four or five years. The report, prepared by Caroline Graham and Denise Hart, was commissioned by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
Program Manager for the RIRDC New Plant Products program, David Evans, says the report identifies food safety, industry promotion and the genetic improvement of crops as the key requirements of R&D for the bush-food industry,
"It provides useful insights into the needs, attitudes and costings of the various sectors of the food, hospitality and manufacturing industries and shows how demand could be increased," he said.
Author Caroline Graham says the current faringate prices of many bushfoods are very high, for example $25/kg for Bush tomatoes, $50/kg for Lemon myrtle leaf and $16/kg for Illawarra plums.
"Many of the large wholesalers and manufacturers interviewed are not willing to pay these prices and this is limiting the opportunities for increasing market demand." she said.
Ms Graham says the costs of wild harvesting bushfoods is very high because of the distances travelled, the need to camp out in the bush and the need for mobile fridges. However, she says farmers cultivating these crops should be realistic about what they charge.
"Farmers need to consider what return will give them a reasonable margin, and both they and the manufacturer need to know what their costs of production are."
Ms Graham warns against people rushing in, cultivating bushfoods.
"Particularly the long term species, like the Illawarra plum, where R&D may lead to the development of a seedless variety thus rendering the seeded variety useless."
She says the bushfood industry is at a crossroad. "It is currently a high unit value gourmet industry, but to ensure a profitable future sales need to be increased, for example through the supermarket trade."
Co-author Denise Hart says people don't know how to use the strong flavours of bushfoods so the industry needs united, generic promotion.
The RIRDC-sponsored report "Prospects for the Australian Native Bushfood Industry" (see this issue) is available from RIRDC for $30 plus $4 postage and handling by contacting Karen Banyard on (06) 272 4539 or fax (06) 272 5877. The RIRDC Internet homepage is located at
Get up-to-date info at Bushfoods magazine online