Large appetite for native food

November 29, 2017

Hort Innovation chief executive officer John Lloyd, grower Paul Keily (Yuandamarra) of Red Centre Enterprises and Australian Native Foods and Botanicals chair Amanda Garner with native produce.

Demand for native produce is growing, with a consumer study revealing more Australian consumers are seeking out native vegetables such as lemon myrtle, Warrigal greens and bush tomatoes.

The Hort Innovation-funded research surveyed the opinions of more than 1700 people, finding those aged 18 to 25 were particularly interested in eating some of the more than 6000 native varieties.

The research found that people were most receptive to types of native vegetables that they could compare to known varieties such as kulyu, which is similar to the sweet potato.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the study showed Australians had a sense of pride in native food and were largely keen to buy native foods, but had limited exposure to many of them.

About 40 edible native foods are commercially available in Australia, but Australian Native Foods and Botanicals chair Amanda Garner predicts that figure will rise.

‘‘As the extraordinary health benefits and medicinal properties of unique Australian plants are being ‘discovered’ the market demand is sky high, especially from the national and international pharma and nutraceutical companies,’’ Ms Garner said.

‘‘Demand is far outstripping supply.’’

Ms Garner said key to success in growth in the industry was the integration of indigenous cultural knowledge.

‘‘Strengthening the various bush food industries’ understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness and incredible array of Australian native species grown in our own backyard is also essential,’’ she said.

The results come after Agriculture and Water Resources Assistant Minister Anne Ruston announced the Federal Government would provide almost $400000 in funding to Australian Native Foods and Botanicals to support it in exporting native Australian produce overseas.

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