Australian Native Foods
With production based on plants from tropical rainforests, windswept Southern Ocean shores, cool temperate highlands and our arid outback, Australia's Native Food Industry is similarly geographically diverse.
This section outlines the level of activity of native food production in the various states around Australia. Members of the industry are invited to contribute to this information, either in the form of a complete state or regional profile, or by providing information that can be used to build such profiles. Profiles should cover developments in the industry; the main plants of interest; the location and scope of cultivation and/or wild harvest; and any regional issues and research and development requirements.
New South Wales & ACT
The modern native food industry on the north coast of New South Wales began in the early 1980's when local enthusiasts such as Peter Hardwick began to select suitable species for commercialisation and provided the food industry with the first local samples of fruits and spices to evaluate. By the late 1980's the first commercial trial plantings had begun.
By the mid 1990's local traditional farmers were also trialling native food species as an alternative to conventional crops. With the growing acceptance of local rainforest species, mainly lemon myrtle, aniseed myrtle and native mint for spice and an increasing interest in local fruits, about 100 farmers in northern NSW took the plunge and planted predominantly lemon myrtle in anticipation of an increase in demand during and following on from the 2000 Olympics. However, by 2000 a lower than predicted demand and falling prices saw many plantings go unharvested and improvements in clonal selections and production meant many of the earlier plantings were no longer viable.
This economic pressure, combined with the need for investment in harvest, postharvest and processing technology as well as product and market development, has led to the formation of local cooperatives and business networks to achieve the economies of scale required.
Thus the native food industry in northern NSW, while only young, has developed a commercial focus and grown from humble beginnings of a few hundred trees in the 1980's to many tens of thousands of trees in full production today, with further growth anticipated.
In the central west of NSW another group are also currently at the trial stage and are looking at crops such as quandongs and native citrus. There are also developments occurring in southern NSW and the ACT and contributions outlining the situation in these areas are required.
Contributors - Sibylla Hess-Buschmann, Australian Rainforest Products Pty Ltd.
Contributions are required to construct a profile of the industry in the Northern Territory.
Further contributions are required to construct a profile of the industry in Queensland. For an examination of the situation in inland Queensland, download the RIRDC-funded report:
Feasibility of a sustainable Bush food industry in Western Queensland (Word file, 749 Kb) by D. G. Phelps, 1997.
Contributor - Anthony Hele.
South Australia has a reasonably well developed native food industry, with an emphasis on arid area or arid-tolerant species, such as quandongs, native citrus, acacias and muntries.
Cultivation areas include the Riverland and Yorke Peninsula and cooler and wetter environment species are being trialled in suitable areas, such as the Adelaide Hills. Wild harvest of muntries occurs on Kangaroo Island and the south coast, while quandongs and acacias are wild harvested from the more northern and western portions of the state.
For a review of the Industry in South Australia, download the ANPI/PIRSA Factsheet:
The Native Food Industry in SA (pdf, 45 Kb)
Contributor- Anthony Hele.
Most activity in native foods in Tasmania is concerned with mountain pepper. Many part-time and hobby harvesters/producers gather wild grown berry and dry and sell in small quantities. Some have experimented with freeze drying berries but find the product of little interest and very expensive.
Leaf production is limited to a few more innovative operators, and several have undertaken small plantation projects using their own selections, based on gross morphological characteristics or vigour.
Contributors - Chris Read, Diemen Pepper.
Contributions are required to construct a profile of the industry in Victoria.
In the south-west of the state, several regional agencies are examining the potential for native food production and plantings of native citrus, quandongs and bush tomatoes have occurred north of Perth.
The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) and wheatbelt farmers are also examining acacias for human food and other uses, as well as sandalwood, a quandong relative.
Contributor - Anthony Hele
See also: Plant Profiles - the main plants of interest to the commercial food industry, both wild harvest and crop cultivation.
This Australian Native Foods Web site is jointly supported by RIRDC and CSIRO.
DISCLAIMER: External links are provided for reference only. CSIRO does not endorse or in any way recommend the organisations listed and expressly excludes liability for and damage, loss or injury that a person may suffer as a result of any dealing with an organisation listed.
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