Local Aussie food news: January headlines

31st January 2023 | Moira Geddes

Making local Aussie food news in January.

A new strawberry variety hits the shelves, Aussie manuka honey producers have a win in their legal battle for naming rights, and food festivals ramp up after COVID shutdowns. Australian Lamb launches its hotly anticipated summer ad, Australia rolls out world-first sustainable grass-fed beef, and the top social media food trends and picnic spots are revealed.

Zara variety has been expertly crafted through tried-and-true cross-pollination techniques.

From the farm gate…

A brand new, extra-sweet berry variety has officially hit Australian shelves this month. Thanks to Driscolls, the Tasmanian grown, Zara variety has been expertly crafted through tried-and-true cross-pollination techniques ensuring a consistently superior fruit. Labelled The Sweetest Batch Strawberry, the fruit is currently in season and in stores nationwide.

After a rough start to the season, growers in the New South Wales Central West have harvested some of the biggest cherries ever to been produced. It comes after low temperatures during spring and December led to a delay in production. As the season continues, the price of cherries have also come down from around $35 per kilogram to around $25 per kg, making it the perfect time to enjoy the summer stone fruit.

Other stone fruit is expected to increase in price across NSW due to record rainfall and a late harvest. Flood-affected Central West and Riverina are two of the largest regions in the state for growing summer fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. The majority of this year’s crop will come from Queensland, but NSW growers are hoping for a late harvest into February and March.

Local Aussie manuka honey producers have come out on top in their stoush with New Zealand producers, over naming rights. It comes after their trans-Tasman rivals backed out of a trademark dispute aimed at preventing them from using the descriptive word, manuka.

Kiwi producers have been trying to block the use of the word in export markets since 2016.

A NSW parliamentary report is recommending supermarkets stop farm produce being sent to waste if it doesn’t look perfect. It comes after farmers argued that the major supermarkets are imposing wasteful standards. They say the practice of turning away fruit due to visual defects is creating unrealistic, long-term expectations from consumers.

Consumers can now buy premium Aussie White lamb through meat subscription service Our Cow. Dubbed the ‘Wagyu of lamb’ it’s used by restaurants including Firedoor, Six Penny and Fred’s. The meat from Doonkami farm has high marbling and a low fat melting point make it far more succulent and give it a less gamey taste.

Also making local Aussie food news in January, a win for packaged meat providers like Our Cow and Provenir, is news that Woolworths will close 250 in-store butchers by March. It follows a consumer trend towards buying pre-packaged meat over fresh cuts. 50 stores will remain open across the country after March to support “necessary” demand. But mincers and bandsaws will no longer be used for on-site meat processing.

What’s on…

That’s Amore Cheese is gearing up to celebrate the third edition of its Ricotta Festival on Sunday March 26th. The one-day event will feature Italian food and drink pop-ups, a local producer marketplace, entertainment for the whole family, DJ sets and kids’ activities. On the food menu, cheese lovers will find gnocchi sorrentina, porchetta rolls and burrata along with freshly filled cannoli from Cannoleria. Carlton Football Club will be sending their Carlton Fan Van to join in the festivities.

Wine & Cheese Fest is gearing up to celebrate its 10th festival on March 5th. The event will give Melburnians the chance to experience 50 local wineries, cheese, and artisan producers all under the one roof. Running across two sessions, foodies can meet each boutique producer, sample free tastings and support local vendors by buying goods brought from all corners of Victoria, and beyond.  Ticket holders will also get the opportunity to learn techniques from experienced cheesemongers and chefs on the masterclass stage throughout the day.

Award-winning luxury hosted getaway, Belle Bois, is launching a two-night all-inclusive food and wine discovery experience on March 17th – 19th. Opening the gates of farms in the Capertee Valley for guests to meet the producers and experience how they manage their land and produce our food. All accompanied by spectacular views of the world’s widest canyon. Opened in 2020, Belle Bois won Silver NSW Tourism Awards in 2021 and 2022. 

The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has announced a 10-day program packed with adventures in eating and drinking all over Melbourne from March 24th to April 2nd. Known for showcasing some of the world’s top chefs and cooks, the festival’s celebrated international guest program is back with an exciting line-up of chefs travelling to Melbourne from New York and London, Chang Mai and Kyoto. The 2023 program also includes a celebration of Melbourne’s finest bakers and pâtissiers.

Also making local Aussie food news in January, the Scenic Rim Eat Local Week will this year be celebrated for a full month across June. In its 12th year and from now on, the paddock-to-plate, food and farming experience will become Eat Local Month which means more time to shine the light on the farmers, growers, producers, artisans, chefs and creators in the region. The full program will be announced in late April. Meantime, the region has unveiled some new experiences with a line up of retreats, new restaurants, distilleries and a three-day cultural immersion program created with local Elders.


What’s new…

Australian Lamb has launched its hotly anticipated summer ad, which challenges the term “Un-Australian” to remind the world that it’s all our differences, along with our delicious lamb, that unites us. The ad comes as research from Australian Lamb reveals that more than half (53%) believe that the term “Un-Australian” has become so overused in 2022 that it’s hard to know what is or isn’t Australian anymore. Watch the full-length ad on YouTube.

Healthy burger restaurant chain Grill’d is rolling out a world-first sustainable, grass-fed beef called Gamechanger. It’s made from black angus cattle, which produce up to two-thirds less methane emissions than regular cattle. In partnership with Sea Forest and validated by the University of New England, Grill’d has developed an innovative way to feed its grass-fed cows Asparagopsis – a native and natural Tasmanian seaweed – to reduce their methane emissions by up to 67 per cent. This world-first trial will revolutionise the grass fed-beef industry, leading the way for others and helping smash national targets signed by the Federal government to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

A new artisan Pasteleria (pastry/cake shop in Spanish), La Colmena, has opened up at Prahran Market, bringing pastries from Spain to Australia for the first time. Inspired by ancient customs in Spanish pastry making, La Colmena was born from a love of Spanish gastronomy. A tribute to old family recipes with aromas that will transport you to Spain. La Colmena is located in Harvest Hall, Stall 20 – between Eggs+ and Lee’s Asian Grocery.

App-based delivery service, Menulog has partnered with iconic Melbourne-based sneaker customiser, Damian Sim “BespokeIND” to develop three ‘Sushi Sneakers’ inspired by the eclectic and indulgent world of Katy Perry. Modelled on the classic Nike Air Force 1’s, the sneakers are handmade from the sole up and feature a salmon maki roll inspired colour palette, complemented with striking rice prints, fishtail loops and even a pair of chopsticks.

The three Katy Perry inspired ‘Sushi Sneaker’s have an estimated value of $15,000.

Also making local Aussie food news in January, with Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, a local Aussie honey producer is encouraging consumers to give their Valentines a gift of sweetness with premium, delicious Wild Nectar Honey instead of chocolate. It’s a new range of cold extracted Australian honey, made from the brand’s apiaries across the South Coast and Central NSW. The honey is unpasteurised and unfiltered from hive to jar, giving it the unique flavours of the Aussie bush.

On trend…

To celebrate National Spaghetti Day which was on Jan 4th, food experts conducted new research to uncover Australia’s favourite pasta dishes in each state and territory. Experts at HelloFresh used Google Trends to analyse the most searched pasta dish in each territory. The findings are as follows: Tasmania – Lasagne, Victoria – Alfredo, South Australia – Carbonara, Australian Capital Territory – Pomodoro, New South Wales – Spaghetti, Bolognese Queensland – Lasagne, Western Australia – Pesto Pasta, and Northern Territory – Pesto Pasta.

Totaling a huge 3.5 billion TikTok hashtag views, cloud bread was the most popular food trend in 2022. A simple, three-step recipe made up of egg whites, cornstarch and sugar, this airy carb went viral with some adding bright food colouring to really make their lunch interesting. The second most popular food trend was a reinvention of traditional breakfast oats.  The baked oats hashtag took TikTok by storm and accumulated 1.3 billion views over the last year. Data released by HelloFresh shows the top ten TikTok food trends of 2022 were as follows:

Cloud bread

Baked Oats

Charcuterie Boards

Pasta Chips

Mug cakes

Birria Tacos

Butter Board

Pesto Eggs

Pickled Garlic

‘Marry Me’ Chicken

Google data has revealed that searches for picnic areas near me’ have grown by more than 5000 per cent in the last month across Australia. Searches for ‘picnic places near me’ are also up 170 per cent. Budget-friendly food box delivery service, EveryPlate, has also revealed Australia’s top 10 most popular picnic locations by analysing tagged locations on Instagram. Australia’s Most Popular Picnic Locations are as follows:

Centennial Park, Sydney

Burleigh Beach, Queensland 

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide

Araluen Botanic Park, Perth

Observatory Hill Park, Millers Point, Sydney, New South Wales

Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, Sydney, New South Wales

Shelly Beach, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales

Squeaky Beach, Victoria

Himeji Garden, Adelaide

Corin Forest, Canberra

Established beef and cropping farmers Jo and Craig Stewart have added goats to the mix.

Also in local Aussie food this month…

In January EATIVITY shared the opinion of a wellness advocate who explains why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick, we showcased the amazing summer berries that are in season right now and shone a light on Veganuary: a global plant-based pledge. We also shared a recipe for back to school champions, and met up with local Aussie goat meat producer, The Gourmet Goat Lady.

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