Sell before you sow!
From the Australian New Crops Newsletter
Don't plant one seed until you know who your customers will be. Match your sales volume to the market-plan ahead and anticipate what you can sell to your outlets. There's nothing worse than producing a crop, only to find out that you can't sell it.
Market analysis not only helps determine if your prospective enterprise can be profitable, but also determines how you will promote and market your product. Match the scope of the project to the risk you can handle Start small, and test your ability to grow and market new products before you scale up. This protects you so that you don't get knocked out if your experiment fails. Starting small also helps assure you'11 produce a quality product.
Set aside a certain percentage of your acreage or gross income each year to experiment with new products.
Focus initially on producing a few selected specialties. Establish a reputation for quality specialty products. Looking for ideas for possible things to grow? Check with current or potential buyers such as specialty distributors, restaurant chefs, customers at your local farm market, retail produce managers, seed company catalogs, cooperative extension office publications and books such as Craig Wallin's 'Backyard Cash Crops' and Rosalind Creasey's 'Cooking From The Garden'.
Play around in the kitchen experimenting with different ways in which your products can be used Don't get swept away by even-new possibility that comes along, however.
Take your list of new ideas and evaluate how each alternative matches your skills, preferences and resources.
Diversify your enterprises and your markets Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
If weather, pests, or a collapsed market wipe out one crop, you've got others to rely on. Another advantage of diversity is that once you've established connections with buyers, increasing the variety you offer them is a good way to increase the overall volume they will accept from you. But there's a tradeoff: you may have to:
•learn new production technologies
•buy new equipment and/or develop new markets. Diversifying markets can be simpler and more lucrative than diversifying production. Adding a farmers market to your marketing mix, going organic, or developing 'value-added' products such as soybean snacks are examples of diversifying your markets without changing what you produce Specialty crops
Raise high-value crops, plants that the big wholesalers have overlooked because they require lots of handling or special care Herbs require much specialized. hands-on care, for instance, as do berries or haricot beans
Rememeber, however, that specialiaty produce doesn't have to be exotic. it just has to taste special!
Regular commercial varieties such as peaches or raspberries are also speciality crops if they are allowed to fully ripen on the tree or vine. special:;.-packed arc moved last' The secret otrign--. alue. specialty The secret of high value, is to know ahead of time what your market is and where it's going.
Be prepared to change with the seasons.
Too many growers just go by what sold last year but most speciality buyers such as chefs are constantly looking for something new.
In case your high-end markets don't take all your premium produce, develop secondary outlets for your specialty crops such as canning, processing or selling at lower end markets.
Translate trends into profits
Look for niche markets through such trends as health and nutrition, smaller packages, more diverse and higher quality foods, quality and convenience, ethnic foods, foods for weight conscious consumers as well as consumers concerned about food-safety. Some other trends to be aware of include the demand for freshin-season, local produce as well as organic produce and cut flowers.
Grow and market for quality
Some customers will pay the price you name for quality they can't get elsewhere.
Freshness: keep your products on the vine or tree as long as possible.
Then get them to the consumer as soon as possible after harvest.
Variety: comb through specialty seed catalogs, searching for varieties that boast of excellence in flavor.
Many specialty farmers grow their products chemical-free, using a program of natural, enriched soil practices.
Don't jeopardize your top-paying markets by mixing your premium products with lesser-grade products-develop secondary outlets for your number two's and three's.
Not everything you produce is marketable to a high-end market such as a restaurant.
Plant 10% more than what you plan to market.
Aim for a year-round supply
Extend your harvest by successively planting different varieties with different harvest dates.
Steady production stretched over a long growing season provides regular work for the labor crew, evens out the cash flow, helps capture early- and late-season prices, and provides a consistency of supply for the buyers.
With only a few acres, you need to use intensive production techniques.
Read John Jeavons' book `How To Grow More Vegetables', on intensive production techniques.
Know your customers
The annals of business failures are filled with businesses that attempted to market what they thought would sell, instead of finding out first what will sell!
Get to know your customers or buyers, why they purchase what they do, and what else they might like to purchase.
Make it a habit to informally survey your customers.
Offer your product or service on a limited basis in order to evaluate potential sales. Ask your family and friends to give you both positive and negative feedback on any new product or idea you try.
Send retail or wholesale buyers new product samples and ask for their feedback.
Use small focus groups to gain insights on your new product. Finally, use advertisements as a type of low-cost test promotion.
If you are considering offering blueberry gift-packs, for example, run an ad inviting customers to `Send blueberries to someone you love.'
Although the ad may not pay for itself in cash returns, losing a few hundred dollars on an ad is cheaper than investing heavily in gift packs.
Don't compete with everyone else
The name of the game is niche marketing. Look for ways to differentiate your product not only by what you grow, but:
how you grow it (ie organic); what you do with it (ie `added- value' or processed products); or
how you package or market the product.
Ordinary spinach, for example, which is triple-rinsed, cut and placed in plastic bags as a ready-to-eat salad becomes a specialty item!
Some other ways to differentiate your product might include:
a service such as washing your lettuce or home delivery of products; giving information such as recipes or workshops; creating an image such as `country', `healthy' or `natural'; or providing recreation, such as a weekend outing in the country.
Look for high-return marketing outlets
Many smaller growers choose direct marketing through farmers markets, roadside stands, etc, in order to increase revenue by cutting out the middlemen. If you like merchandising and dealing with people, or if you have family labor available to help, you may prefer selling direct to customers.
Direct marketing is most likely to be successful for seasonal items or relatively high-value products including `value-added' or processed products, and for small and part-time farmers within 20 miles of urban population centers or on access roads to major tourist areas.
Taking over the job of the middlemen, however, takes a lot of time.
If you only like to grow, a broker or specialty distributor who sells to high-end markets can enable you to spend all your time growing and still net a high return.
Next issue - marketing and more..
If you would like to be a part of this growing resource, read on
nativefood.com.au aims to be a central resource for those of us who work with Australian native food. It is a place to promote our businesses, educate our end users, and educate ourselves.
The Industry Pages
This section of the site hosts the web pages of those of us in the industry: processors, chefs, restaurants, marketers, growers, academics, nurseries, researchers, contractors, equipment manufacturers and any directly relevant organisations and associations.
The Produce Market
In The Produce Market users can wander through the stalls of our member producers and processors. We plan to enable online ordering in the future as a convenient facility for the catering and food service industries, whether you are large or small.
The Kitchen Studio
The Kitchen Studio showcases the innovative and masterful work of the chefs using native foods in their menus. Witness step by step master classes in the use of native food ingredients and landmark dishes of the recent past.
The Reading Room
The Reading Room is a place to browse the files for recipes, ingredient glossaries, articles of interest, botanical information, cultivation notes, links and resources... the list goes on.
The Plant Nursery
The Plant Nursery can put you in touch with specialist native food plant propagators, show you the plants and provide online ordering facilities direct from the featured nurseries.
The site will ultimately become a wonderful resource to our industry, and offers a chance to gain very economical, high exposure internet presence for our businesses.
Industry pages will enable businesses to have a web address of:
"www.nativefood.com.au/your business name"
Email aliases can also be provided using the nativefood domain:
For information, rates, terms or submissions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Whitecliffs welcomes you to a bush tucker eating adventure with the stars as you have never seen them before.
Finger Food and an introduction to Bush Tucker
Tharita mira, (Kangaroo bag) this is lean kangaroo spiced with native herbs and spices wrapped in flaky pastry to be dipped in bushtucker sauces and chutney.
Mangarta pirla pirla, (Warigal dilly bag) this is a file bag of warrigal greens and Australian cheeses with a native pepper to spice things up a little, to be dipped in bushtucker sauces.
Kalthi (Emu) lasagne. Italy and bushtucker combine to make a delicious entrée of emu,l native greens and native herbs and spices with creamy Australian cheese.
Tharlta Coconut Curry. (Kangaroo) This is a Thai style curry with native spices, served on a bed of rice flavoured with a dash of bush tomato.
Lamb Curry. A more traditional curry, flavoured with bushtucker spices.
Tharita (Kangaroo) or Lamb rissoles in a spicy bushtucker gravy served with roast vegetables, steamed warrigal greens and old man salt bush, flavoured with native herbs.
Karnpuka (Quandong) Pie with Darling River cream. A thickened cream with wattle seed roasted and blended into the cream.
Tea and Coffee and Quandong Liqueur
The music industry is lining up behind a new prime time television program featuring Australian music, music artists, wines and Native Foods.
The new show with the working title "With a Twist" is to be hosted by Brian Lizotte, brother of guitar king Mark "Diesel" Lizotte.
Brian has provided on-tour and backstage catering to the cream of the music industry for more than a decade, looking after home grown and international stars like Elton John, Jimmy Barnes, Shirley MacLain, INXS, the Oils, John Farnham, Billy Joel and a host of others.
The half hour television series will feature intimate glimpses of some of Australia's headline stars as Brian introduces them to his trademark Australian Native Foods and quality Australian wines, showing how simple it is to use an array of unique Australian foods to give meals the special twist.
"About seven years ago I started to crusade for Australian Native Foods like, Macadamia Nuts, Lemon Myrtle, Riberries, and Native Apples," says Brian Lizotte from his bayside bistro on the Central Coast where the menu is littered with Australian flavours.
"I wanted to make these foods an every day part of the dishes we served to music stars and in our catering generally.
"The enthusiastic response to the foods pushed us into developing a television program to showcase them to a broader audience. The natural way to showcase them seemed to be with fine Australian music and wine.
Music Industry Welcomes New Oz Food Music Show
This week "With a Twist" show was unveiled to senior music industry executives and artists at a special screening at the home of Jane and Jimmy Barnes, in Sydney.
"The response WAS extremely enthusiastic," Brian said. "And although I can't name names, some of Australia's top music stars have already tried to book a spot on the program, they are so excited about the concept.
"There aren't enough outlets for Australian artists on television and "With a Twist" fills a major gap combining music with cooking and exotic foods in a highly entertaining and watchable half-hour.
"Some of Australia's top wine companies are also looking at the program to show what they have to offer," Brian said.
For further information contact Brian Lizotte on 0418 440 214 or Walter Pearson on 0411 408 176
The Queensland Bushfood Ass.
Next meeting will be held in Brisbane in August - for further
Ph 07 5494 3812 or
07 3284 2202
or email: email@example.com
May 25 2000
For the second year, bushfood growers and enthusiasts gathered at Griffith University in Brisbane to talk, listen, eat and network. In fact, `networking' was the theme of this year's conference, with speakers sessions being scheduled between ample `networking' slots. The conference was a much less formal affair this year than last, with a blackboard program of `speakers from the floor'. These mini talks were both enlightening and informative - it's wonderful to hear what people are doing and share their experiences.
One of the main issues to come from the conference was the need to share information in a more structured way - Anthony Hotson spoke about the web page he is designing which is both ambitious and exciting. Another suggestion was a recipe book put together collaboratively.
One thing to come strongly from the conference was the need for a follow-up meeting in which interested people get together with potential buyers or processors to `talk turkey'. This has been scheduled for late August and the word is going out to processors, buyers and manufacturers now.
I would like to thank all the speakers who took the time join us - Narendra Nand of Griffith Uni, who gave an update on the research he is doing into Davidson plum; Dr Rob Fletcher from Gatton who blended fact and humour to urge us to look carefully at what we are doing and why; Ron Mitchell, who spoke eloquently on Aboriginal participation in the industry; Anne Moran who took us through a `virtual walk'through the bush, John Wrench, who reminded us that there is a great need for careful recording and labelling of our product and Nicholas Roche, who gave a chef's perspective on bushfoods.
Special thanks to Dr Janet Gorst, who once again gave freely of her time to assist with the day.
Participants at the second bushfood conference
Special thanks to Dr Janet Gorst, who once again gave freely of her time to assist with the day.
This is a chance for growers, potential growers and others to meet and talk with potential buyers of product.
This free-of-charge conference aims to bring together some of the threads which were revealed in the May 25th conference and build a base from which strategic alliances can be formed to produce, process and market product.
Ph: 07 5494 3812
Fax: 07 5494 3506
Quality Australian Produce Wholesaler of Australian Foods
Quandongs and Quandong pulp
Value added products: -
Quandong Chili Sauce Quandong Chutney
Bush Tomato Relish Wattleseed & Native Pepper Mustard
Macadamia Satay Sauce Game meats and products
Ph: 08 9325 6600. Fax: 08 9325 6604
The leaves and stems of this rain forest tree exhibit a wonderful citrus flavour and aroma. A rainforest tree from the east coast of Australia, the lemon myrtle leaf when crushed or infused releases a tempting combination of taste and aroma similar to a blend of sweet lemon grass, lemon and lime oils. Try lemon myrtle in soups, sauces, fruit stews and pickles or try sousing fish in hot vinegar and lemon myrtle. Lemon myrtle makes an excellent herb butter or custard, a refreshing tea or it can be added to breads. The lemon myrtle flavour can cook out with too much heat so add last and infuse or cover the simmering vessel to seal in the volatile oils. Probably one of the most successful bush foods to be incorporated into professional cookery. The lemon myrtle grows in semi-tropical and tropical rainforests and is the leaf of a beautiful tree.
Edible portion: Leaf
Harvest period: Year round
Yrs to maturity: 2-3
Form: Medium tree to 15m
Natural Distribution/Growing conditions:
Tropical and subtropical rainforests in rich organic, sandy to heavy textured soils.
Tropical-subtropical high rainfall.
Prefers acid to neutral soils. Some protection needed when young but full sun preferred for mature plants. It is wind hardy but prefers frost free areas. Irrigation is needed in very hot dry conditions. Please note that to ensure adequate oil content, clonal selection of stock is recommended. It is pest and disease free but perhaps not in monocultural conditions.
Traditional Aboriginal Use Unknown, suspected nil
Yield at maturity: 1.5 kg
Harvesting: Mechanical hedging.
Supplied as: Fresh or dry leaf or oil.
Typical value adding:
Whole or ground spice, tincture, oil, syrup, soft drink, useful food preservative, strongly antibacterial. The flavour of this remarkable leaf is that of lemon, lime and lemon grass. Use with all fish, seafood and white meats and vegetables. Make a lemon myrtle dressing, beurre blanc, mousse, sorbet. Sprinkle on meats and fish before grilling or over vegetables after steaming. Flavour butter or oil.
Current purchasing price: $15-$25/kg (dried)
High but monitor plantings as there are a great number of trees going into the ground
Reseach also: Backhousia myrtifolia (Cinnamon myrtle)