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Native FoodsAustralian Native Foods


CSIRO is working in conjunction with Aboriginal communities and Australian industry to learn more about ‘bush tucker’ and put Australian native foods on the menu.

The fledgling native foods industry (excluding Macadamia) is worth an estimated $14 million annually, but its export potential is yet to be realised because it can't yet guarantee regular supplies of high quality produce.

CSIRO is seeking ways to lower production costs and increase product quality in order to meet the growing demand for a variety of food ingredients from Australian native plants, seeds and fruits.

The benefits of cultivating Australian native foods include:

  • Conserves wild resources and helps protect biodiversity
  • Utilises Aboriginal knowledge and values traditional lore
  • Contributes to combating salinity problems by introducing more perennials
  • Encourages farmers to diversify from traditional crops
  • Creates incomes and jobs for Aboriginal and rural communities.

This Web site is an information resource for all those interested in the native foods industry.
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QuandongOther Native Food Research at CSIRO

CSIRO is working on a number of other projects related to native foods, as described below.

Native fruits nutritional qualities tested

Twelve native Australian fruits that are exceptional sources of antioxidants have been identified in research published in the journal Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies. >> Read more in CSIRO media release

Native Foods on Trial

A research project conducted by CSIRO in conjunction with Aboriginal communities and Australian Native Produce Industries is investigating quandongs, mountain pepper, bush tomatoes, muntries, riberries, native citrus and acacias. With mini-orchards established at nine sites in southern Australia, CSIRO scientists are gathering world-first data on how native foods grow in different climatic environments.

Contact: Dr Maarten Ryder, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

In the Limelight

Citrus growers recently made the first commercial harvests of fruit from plantations of new lime varieties developed from Australian native limes. Australia has a range of true citrus native limes. Three varieties are now being evaluated in commercial orchards in Australia.

Contact: CSIRO Plant Industry General Enquiries

Tradition plus Science

CSIRO scientists have been working with Aboriginal communities to learn about bush foods for more than a decade. With the help of the true experts - Aboriginal people from communities in the Australian deserts - they have made new seed collections of Acacia colei and other edible-seeded wattles and have worked with farmers in Niger to develop farm-scale acacia plantations.

Contact: Dr Chris Harwood, CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products

MacadamiasAustralian Macadamia to the World

Despite the history of offshore development (mainly in Hawaii), Australia is now the world’s leading producer of Macadamia nut and the industry is worth $120 million a year to Australia.

CSIRO have a Macadamia research team based mainly in Brisbane. Their research ranges from the conservation of genetic material and cultivar improvement through to optimising pollination, orchard design and methods to process the kernel that maintains its quality and improves consumer appeal. The research team comprises several Divisions of CSIRO: Plant Industry, Food Science Australia, Sustainable Ecosystems, and Forestry and Forest Products. The team works together with the peak grower organisation (Australian Macadamia Society), state departments, growers and processors. Major support for this work comes from Horticulture Australia Ltd that has a substantial major research program focused on Macadamia.

More information:

Contact: Dr Cameron McConchie, CSIRO Plant Industry

Native Foods from the Desert

A research program on “bush produce” run through the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre commenced in October 2004 with research focusing on the following activities:

  • wild harvest of native foods
  • horticultural production
  • plant improvement
  • storage of produce after harvest
  • marketing and consumer issues.

An important aspect is partnership with Indigenous communities and a research approach that is more inclusive of non-scientists. The main species studied are bush tomatoes, wattle seeds and native citrus, but other potential crops are also included. The project participants include a number of research and government agencies as well as community and commercial partners.

Contact: Dr Maarten Ryder, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

Article: "Desert Delicious - Indigenous Australian Foods for the Global Palate" by Julian Cribb, Yvonne Latham and Maarten Ryder. Terrain.org A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments. Issue 16, Apring/Summer 2005.

>> More information about CSIRO native food research.


This Web site has been based on content from a previous site called 'Australian Native Crop Development'. The original content was developed by Anthony Hele with subsequent work by Jan Mahoney, Maarten Ryder, Yvonne Latham and Marie O'Hanlon.

RIRDC LogoThis 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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