All the latest food news from this week
This week in food news, why giant capsicums are cropping up in the fresh food section at Coles and Woolies. You might want to grab some for your Australia Day barbie, because you could be out of luck if you try to buy fresh meat. Also in Aussie food news, food business incubator FoodLab launches a new program, and the government dangles a cash carrot to lure working holiday makers. Plus, some good news for lobster fishers, some great news for lovers of vegan cuisine, and we bid a sad farewell to a pioneering cheesemaker.
Who’s your farmer of the year?
Nominations are now open for the 2022 Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. The awards celebrate excellence in farming; they seek out those going above and beyond to build successful farming enterprises and elevate the agricultural industry. Award categories include Australian Farmer of the Year, Young Farmer of the Year, Farming Legend of the Year, Rural Community Leader of the Year, Rural Consultant of the Year and Agricultural Student of the Year. Nominations can be made at farmeroftheyear.com.au.
James and the giant capsicum
The (literally) biggest food news at the moment is the size of capsicums at the supermarket. Mega caps up to three times the size of your regular pepper are turning up everywhere. But you needn’t fear a Day of the Triffids-style takeover; the appearance of these giant vegies is a result of rain, hail and floods in capsicum-growing regions in Queensland and South Australia, along with COVID supply chain issues. As a result, the big supermarkets are being less fussy about what they accept. Good news both for growers and capsicum lovers.
Shaw River closes its doors
After 26 years, the Haldane family of Shaw River Buffalo Cheese will cease production at their Yambuk dairy. Roger and Sue Haldane introduced Riverine buffalo to Australia in 1996; they were true pioneers in both the agricultural and dairy industries. They were the first to supply the Australian market with handmade, farmhouse buffalo milk mozzarella. But with COVID wreaking havoc on food businesses everywhere, the Haldanes have found the many challenges have become “insurmountable”. As such, they’ve decided to close the doors on their dairy for the last time. Final production will be in late January.
New incentives to lure overseas workers
The federal government has announced measures to provide incentives for fully vaccinated student and working holiday maker visa holders to return to Australia as soon as possible to help address current workforce shortages. Working Holiday Maker visa holders who come to Australia over the next 12 weeks will be eligible for a refund of their visa application charge; student visa holders who come to Australia over the next eight weeks will also be eligible for a refund. It’s hoped this will encourage more people to come to Australia to fill the vital skills gaps currently affecting the agricultural and hospitality industries.
Applications now open for FoodLab 2022
Sydney food business incubator FoodLab has reopened applications for 2022. Alongside the existing full program, FoodLab will now be offering a new, condensed “taster program”. This aims to give food entrepreneurs a robust overview of the basics of food business in a two-week workshop series. “Running these programs more frequently will give us the flexibility and adaptability needed to reach unique communities across greater Sydney and beyond,” says program manager Jamie Loveday. “This will help us to further our impact to create equal opportunity for all food entrepreneurs, no matter their background.”
Have your say on organic labelling
Consumers frustrated with misleading claims on organic products can help shape regulatory reform to ensure authentic organic product packaging in the future. Australia is the last developed nation in the world without a mandatory domestic standard for the term “organic” on product labelling. This means consumers can easily be misled. But now you have the power to influence change. Simply complete a short online survey as part of the government’s review of the domestic organic industry regulatory framework.
WA avocados smashing it in Japan
Western Australian avocados were the headline item at the WA Premium Food and Beverage Trade Event held in Tokyo on Monday. The event was hosted by the WA government to promote the state’s premium food and beverages and create new export opportunities. Avocados are WA’s biggest, fastest-growing fruit industry. Just over half of orchards are at full production; young trees will contribute to production in coming years.
Meat shortages expose supply chain failings
The possibility of bare barbecues on Australia Day should ring alarm bells for all sides of politics, NSW Farmers says, as major retailer supply chains continuing to struggle. NSW Farmers President James Jackson says ongoing failures to prevent anti-competitive behaviour had led to a handful of companies controlling most of our meat supply. “We’ve seen independent supply chains avoid the worst of the squeeze here in Australia,” he says. “Surely better competition would deliver better results for consumers.”
Lobsters find new market
Rock lobster fishers have been seeking new markets ever since China decided to halt imports of our premium lobsters as part of an ongoing trade war with Australia. Southern rock lobster exports have now expanded into South Korea. This expanded market access brings some good news to our seafood industry; South Korea is already a promising market for Aussie seafood. This new access will allow live, frozen and chilled lobster to be exported.
Meat-free beyond Monday
A new partnership between DOLMIO and v2food is encouraging Aussies to try a meat-free spin on their favourite meals. To launch the partnership, a $10 meal bundle will be available from Coles online for one week from January 19. This provides 500g DOLMIO Extra Bolognese sauce, 500g v2 plant-based mince 500g and 500g Coles durum wheat spaghetti. A six-week Pinterest campaign will also share inspiration for tasty plant-based meals. Plus, there’ll be a social media campaign featuring influencers who’ll create their own favourite Italian meals using DOLMIO sauce and v2 plant-based mince.
New vegan platform launches
As more people embrace a plant-based lifestyle, two Aussie entrepreneurs are on a mission to make plant-based eating easier and more accessible. Lara Young and Susan McCarthy are the co-founders of Australian start-up VEats. It’s a first-of-its kind, exclusively plant-based platform where customers can explore local businesses offering vegan options, book a table or order online delivery and pick-up. The platform currently has more than 600 directory listings across Sydney CBD, inner west, eastern suburbs and northern beaches. Following the Sydney launch, VEats is planning expansion to Melbourne, Queensland and Perth.
Also in food news this week
This week we took another squiz at the plant-based movement, which is going gangbusters; plant-based pledge Veganuary recently hit two million sign-ups. As a nod to all the peeps doing Veganuary, we featured some crazy delicious sweet recipes using plant-based ingredients. But while all plant foods are good for you, which ones are best? A nutrition expert shared her top four plant foods that she buys every week. Of course, right now, pickings are a bit slim at supermarket, so you’ll just have to take what you can get. We explored the issues that have led to the current food shortages affecting stores nationwide. Finally, we dished up the story of Elato, Australia’s first social enterprise ice cream brand.
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