Local Aussie food news: December headlines

31st December 2022 | Moira Geddes

Making local Aussie food news in December.

Aussie mangoes hit stores at record low prices, local lemon growers on track to supply fruit all year round and a Scenic Rim bowling club gets set for a fresh new restaurant celebrating local produce. New alcohol-free drinks hit the shelves in time for Summer, Pinterest Predicts reveals the top 2023 food trends and another food delivery service is forced to shut down.

Some mangoes have been selling for as little as $2 a piece.

From the farm gate

Mangoes have been selling for record low prices across the country. The plummet in cost has been due to several production areas all hitting the market at the same time following unusual seasonal conditions. The excess volume has prompted some farmers in the NT to leave fruit on trees as costs outweigh returns. Traditionally, mangoes have hit the shelves at a steady pace over the summer. Australian mangoes usually have staggered ripening times across the growing regions of North Queensland, the Northern Territory, and northern Western Australia.  

Queensland’s pineapple industry is urging Australians to share the love and ‘Take Two’ pineapples home in shopping bags this summer to prevent an unprecedented surplus of fruit from rotting. It comes after weather event not seen in 50 years wreaks havoc on supply. Up to 70 per cent of this year’s crops have flowered early and all at once. Some farmers are now facing financial hardship for the next 12 to 18 months. Many are predicting a 60 to 90 per cent loss of crops this summer if consumers don’t rally behind the industry’s ‘Take Two’ appeal.

Western Australian cherries also hit shelves in December after cooler weather delayed this year’s harvest. Most local growers had only started picking a few days prior to the Manjimup annual cherry festival. While WA consumers will enjoy the local summer stone fruit, it’s unlikely there will be enough to be sent to the eastern states.

Record numbers of lemons are expected to be harvested in Far North Queensland this summer, helping the Australian industry achieve its goal of supplying Australian lemons year-round. Citrus Australia says growers have been conducting spot picks from October through to December, with full harvest underway from January to March. Lemons are typically imported from the USA and Egypt over summer to meet consumer demand, as lemons from southern Australia were not able to meet demand.

Aussies will soon see locally grown lemons available all year round.

Australia’s dried fruit growers are expecting to lose half of this season’s fruit. It comes after intense wet weather caused an outbreak of downy mildew. Growers in Sunraysia, which grows 98 per cent of Australia’s dried fruit exports, say up to 60 per cent of the crops could be lost. The Sunraysia region is located across south-west New South Wales and north-west Victoria.

Also making local Aussie food news in December, food prices have grown at their fastest pace in 16 years in the September quarter according to ABARES. One of the major contributors has been reduced and delayed vegetable crops due to flooding and a colder Spring. Another contributor is milk prices which have risen at fastest rate since records began according to Rabbobank. The national commodity forecaster is also forecasting a record-breaking $72 billion worth of farm product exports this financial year. The gross value is expected to come in at $85 billion.

What’s new…

One of the world’s largest producers of pasta and pasta sauces has given its much-loved Blue Box range a refresh with a more modern and sustainable pack. On its 145th anniversary, Barilla has removed the plastic window from its packaging, which will help to reduce approximately 126,000kg of plastic annually worldwide. The removal of the soft plastic window means the entire pack is now 100% recyclable. Barilla aims to remove all unnecessary plastic from its entire global product packaging by 2030.

BLUME Restaurant’s Jack Stuart and Emily Lochran, is behind a new dining experience at the Boonah Bowls Club/Fassifern Sports Club in Queensland’s Scenic Rim. Overlooking spectacular mountain views, a tasteful makeover is currently underway with a Summer 2023 opening planned. Menus will feature food from local producers and paddocks you can literally see! The Scenic Rim was named by The Lonely Planet as one of the Hottest 10 Regions in the World to visit this year.

Jack Stuart and his mate, agritourism advocate Emily Lochran, have decided to go bowling.

New Asian fusion restaurant, Wong Baby, has opened its doors at Goldfields House in South Yarra. Catering for 250+ guests, the newest addition to Good Group Hospitality’s growing Australasian portfolio is bringing to life the feel of an Asian street food environment. The menu has been designed by Good Group Culinary Director Angel Fernandez, who has successfully launched White + Wong’s in Sydney and Botswana Butchery in Melbourne and Sydney for Good Group.

foodie precinct Darling Square has recently welcomed two new venues, Holy Basil and Irori Kuon. Co-owners of Holy Basil, Louise and Tony, use their unique mix of Laos & Thai cultural heritage as inspiration for their offering. Irori Kuon encompasses a traditional Japanese cooking method using wood and charcoal to grill various cuts of meats, seafood and vegetables in the simplest of ways to enhance full flavours and textures of premium produce.

Pioneering Indigenous bush foods specialist, Kakadu Kitchen, has partnered with Sydney-based alcohol-free specialists ALDT Spirits. They’ve come up with a new limited-edition non-alcoholic beverage based on an-marabula, the Kakadu Native Peach. The An-marabula Native Peach Bellini – Limited Edition is the first ever beverage to use an-marabula, a rare cousin of the renowned ‘superfood’, Kakadu plum. The native peaches have been harvested ethically by Kakadu Kitchen owner and Bininj man Ben Tyler and his extended family in the Northern Territory.

Kakadu native peach harvested on Murdudjurl country in kakadu National Park.

Also making local Aussie food news in December, Remedy has launched an all-new natural energy drink K!CK. Consisting of three flavours, Blackberry, Lemon Lime and Mango Pineapple it has 80mg of caffeine and no sugar. It’s also made with made with a base of Remedy kombucha which includes live cultures, antioxidants and organic acids. Remedy Managing Director Chris Gillard said the business dug deep into the needs of its consumers, who are concerned about the impact energy drinks have on their health. Remedy K!CK is available at 7-Eleven stores around the country.

Winners and losers…

The first notable winner is Fixx Nutrition which has undergone significant growth in 2022. The Burleigh Heads-based health and wellness company says it’s grown 33 per cent due to the successful implementation of its global expansion plans. Products are now being sold in 15 countries across Australia, Asia and North America. Fixx Nutrition provides a natural, healthy alternative to sugar-laden energy drinks for people to rehydrate and prevent and relieve cramping during exercise activities.

Pinstrest trends for 2023 have been released and on the food front the winners are seaweed and wildflowers. According to the visual discovery engine, the hottest superfoods for 2023 will be from the sea thanks to their health benefits. Everything, from green algae and nori to seaweed snacks is trending up. Wildflowers are also trending as Gen X and Millennials trade bouquets for boucakes. The apothecary aesthetic comes to the kitchen, with people of all ages tackling ambitious sweet treats like wildflower cupcakes and daisy desserts. 

This trend will help support local producers like Wild Canary and Pretty Produce.

Arnott’s has “crunched” the numbers to reveal Australia’s year in snacking for the first time ever. Jatz took out the top spot across NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA, leaving only TAS as the outlier – Shapes Barbecue reigning as their top snack. Tim Tam, Shapes Chicken Crimpy and even Scotch Fingers made it to the State leader boards, but Jatz officially ‘unwraps’ 2022! 

There have also been a few losers in December. As cities open post COVID, another food delivery service has been forced to shut down. This time, Melbourne-based YourGrocer has sent customers farewell email messages to notify them of the situation. It follows the shutdown of delivery app Send and Voly last month. UK-based Deliveroo also recently exited the crowded Australian food delivery market.

Also making local Aussie food news in December, Coles has recalled 11 Coles Own Brand products containing baby spinach. It follows advice from health authorities, which warned that some spinach may potentially be contaminated with unsafe plant material. The products sold in Coles Supermarkets, Coles Local, Coles Express and through Coles Online have been affected. The recall spread across stores in NSW, VIC, ACT, QLD, NT and SA, impacting products sold between Dec 17th and Dec 23rd.

Piggy in the Middle’s Kate, Dean, Mason and Krystal Mayne.

Also in local food this month…

In December EATIVITY revealed how to eat your way to a healthy heart. We showcased some of Australia’s favourite stone fruit, and shared some tips about how to minimize waste at Christmas. We also featured a handful of healthy recipes that cater to everyone, and shone the spotlight on another amazing local Aussie producer, Piggy in the Middle.

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