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Lagging behind, Australia must now embrace innovative veggie products

By RJ Whitehead , 08-May-2014
Last updated on 09-May-2014 at 10:45 GMT2014-05-09T10:45:02Z

Products like instant pumpkin deserts should be welcomed in Australia
Products like instant pumpkin deserts should be welcomed in Australia

Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in the race to meet consumer demand for novel vegetable products.

This is according to the latest Project Harvest consumer reports released by AusVeg. 

The study by AusVeg, the peak body for the country’s vegetable and potato industry, found that of the world’s global launches of products that contain vegetables, less than 2% are also released in Australia. 

The relatively low number of new vegetable product launches in Australia indicates that there is an opportunity for vegetable growers to find new ways of getting their vegetables to consumers,” said Tim Shue of AusVeg. 

New product types may help relieve pressures placed on growers by retailers. Vegetables that don’t make the grade could be transformed into brand-new products rather than going to waste.

New market potential

Green bean ice-cream, instant pumpkin desserts, yoghurts and chips containing vegetable products and vegetable garden cream cheeses are just a handful of the thousands of new products that have recently been launched overseas.

Creativity, lateral thinking and an active engagement with global experts in produce innovation could help industry access new domestic and international markets.”

Keen to take action, AusVeg has organised a forum in June to discuss vegetable product innovation. 

By exposing the Australian industry to research and development being conducted globally, we hope to excite businesses with innovative ideas about how Australian vegetables could be transformed and consumed,” said Shue.

While the fresh market may remain the focus for Australia, other countries in Asia, Europe and the US have been investing in novel vegetable products, and this indicates that there are definitely markets out there.”

The Produce Innovation Seminar, which takes place in Cairns on June 19, will hear from industry figures from the US and Europe in product innovation and sensory science.

Global focus

Meanwhile, AusVeg’s chief executive has urged Australian vegetable producers to view the global marketplace as their “number one focus”. 

Speaking at an industry forum in Queensland last week, Richard Mulcahy said that only 7% of Australian produce was being exported.

This statistic is troubling, perhaps even disturbing, in light of our industry’s accomplishments,” said Mulcahy, adding that the Australian horticultural industry needs to stay vigilant against the tide of cheap foreign imports.

To grow the world’s best produce and only capitalise on this achievement within our population of 23m is simply wasted potential.

There are markets right on our doorstep with increasing demand for Australian produce and, as it currently stands we are not harnessing the full potential of those demands. Hence the global market place must be our number one focus moving in to the future of agribusiness.