Local Aussie food news: November headlines

30th November 2022 | Moira Geddes

Making local Aussie food news in November.

Cherry season finally kicks off following a slight delay due to heavy rain. Farmers breathe a sigh of relief as backpackers start returning to their gates for harvest. Kialla Pure Foods wins the Australian Organic Industry Brand of the Year Award. Josh and Julie Niland sign a lease on a new restaurant and bar and Aussie restaurants continue to impress international diners and food critics.

The 2022 cherry season is underway with fruit available until January.

In season

November has marked the official start to the Victorian cherry season which runs through to late January. The season usually begins in the first or second week of November with the peak season being in the weeks leading up to Christmas. But this year’s season is running slightly later due to the recent rain. The state’s main cherry production areas are the Goulburn valley, Yarra Valley and Sunraysia regions. Cherries are unique in that a new variety begins harvest each week of the season. That means that despite the rain, new varieties will come on after the bad weather passes.

This summer, visitors can also visit the popular Cherry Trail and support the orchards directly. The Cherry Trail gives consumers the chance to meet the growers and buy farm-fresh cherries directly from the orchard. Some farms even allow visitors to pick their own. Australia’s cherry sector is currently in an expansion phase, with growing consumer appetite for the fruit locally and in export markets.

Tropic Co has unveiled its first Aussie Tiger Prawns of the season. The Queensland producer expects to farm approximately 200 million of them, which equates to seven prawns for every Australian. Tropic Co has also announced a new hospitality campaign, Prawn Bucket SUNdays, that kicks off at over 150 hotels, pubs and clubs across the country. It aims to encourage consumers to support their closest local venue by dropping in to enjoy a bucket of quality local prawns.

There’s much more to the world of avocados than Hass and Shepard.

From the farm gate

Also making local Aussie food news in November, Australians have consumed 4.76kg of avocados per person over the last year, according to Avocados Australia’s “FACTS AT A GLANCE” figures for FY2021-22. It’s a significant increase on the previous year’s figure. A recent Hort Innovation report has revealed that people who regularly eat avocado have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), a smaller waist and less weight gain over time.

This year an expert roundtable has also recommended a serving size of 75g, or half a medium avocado. This is an increase on a previous recommendation of 50g. The updated long-term forecast suggests Australia’s avocado production is expected to continue to increase to about 170,000 tonnes by 2026, more than double the 2020-21 crop.

Farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as backpackers start returning to their gates for harvest. Home Affairs figures show that two and a half times more Holiday Maker visas were granted over the last year, compared to during FY2020-21. The number is still below pre-pandemic figures, when more than 209,000 visas were granted.

Consumers are expected to face a shortage of potatoes and hot chips. It comes as storms continue to wreak havoc on potato farms in western Victoria. Western Australia’s only potato chip producer is blaming significantly increased growing costs for its move to ration chips for its customers.

In Tasmania, Berries have taken over potatoes as the state’s biggest crop. It comes after the farm gate value of the berry sector grew by 63 per cent in 2020-21. It’s now valued at over $400 million and is the third largest agricultural industry in the island state, behind livestock and dairy. Tasmania is already Australia’s largest producer of raspberries and blackberries, and the second largest producer of blueberries. It also exports more cherries than the country’s other states combined.

A group of heavy hitting global agribusiness companies have launched an action plan to significantly boost and support regenerative farming on a global scale. The plan aims to tackle the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. The taskforce appointed to roll out the plan, hopes to enable regenerative farming to become mainstream. Regenerative farming must triple its rate of growth to make up at least 40% of global cropland by 2030 according to analysis by Systemiq.

Without bees, the world would be a very different place to the one we know.

A buzz with activity

Also making local Aussie food news in November, the Wheen Bee Foundation has held another successful Australian Pollinator Week. The nine days of events included informative webinars with a panel of accomplished bee experts, a pollinator photography competition with award-winning judges, and a bee-friendly gardening session. The initiative is dedicated to raising awareness of Australia’s unique pollinators and the role they play in supporting our local ecosystems.

Meantime, beekeepers continue to suffer from the recent Varoa mite outbreak. The Hunter Valley’s only meadery Honey Wines Australia has lost 90% of its beehives. Owners and beekeepers Martin and Angelica Jackson plan to source raw honey from other local beekeepers in the Hunter Valley area until they build up their beehives again.

November has also marked Urban Agriculture Month. More than 57% of the world’s population now live in cities, and in Australia, 86% of people live in urban environments. To have healthy communities and a healthy planet, urban agriculture must exist. That’s because it plays an important role in strengthening food resilience, addressing social justice issues, providing new livelihood opportunities, and improving community health and wellbeing

And the winner is…

Kialla Pure Foods has won the Australian Organic Industry Brand of the Year Award. The awards celebrate outstanding and innovative products, individuals, brands, and businesses in the organic industry. Organic Farmer of the Year was awarded to Brendon Hoyle of Ashbern Farms in Queensland. The full list of winners can be viewed on the Australian Organic website.  

Also making local Aussie food news in November, the 2022 Australian Olive Awards Season has ended with Rio Vista Olives snagging a handful of gongs.

The South Australian producer winning:
– Best Flavoured Oil for its Chilli Pressed Olive Oil at the Golden Olive Awards along with 5 Golds and 7 Silvers
– Best Single Variety EVOO for its Manzanillo at the Royal Adelaide Olive Awards along with 8 Gold and 8 Silver medals
– Reserve Champion Flavoured Oil for its Chilli Pressed and 3 Gold and 4 Silver at the Australian International Olive Awards

Woodside Cheese Wrights’ Anthill Cheese has been nominated as the Best Australian Cheese, also winning a Super Gold Medal at this year’s World Cheese Awards. Anthill was included in the top 90 cheeses in the world from over 4400 cheeses entered from across the globe this year.

Maleny Dairies has won Sunshine Coast Large Business of The Year for the Food and Agribusiness category. On social media the company thanked every staff member who works at Maleny Dairies for their dedication and hard work to produce the high-quality dairy products they are renowned for.

Fifty of the state’s most outstanding contributors to the food and beverage industry have been formally recognised for their achievement and innovation in the 2022 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards. Haigh’s Chocolates and Mike’s Beef Jerky both received the hotly contested Consumer Award, chosen after more than 10,000 public votes were cast from across the globe, while Mitani Group was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Golden North and Menz were named ‘Legends for Life’; an accolade recognising the strong relationship between consumer and product, and one that is only provided to businesses that have won the Consumer Award at least three times.

Josh Niland is the culinary master of all things fish, with a profound knowledge of sustainable practices.

Sustainable measures

Australia’s oldest dairy Brownes is making a change for the better with new yoghurt tubs made from ocean bound plastic. The tubs will also be fully recyclable by kerbside waste management operators. The initiative will be an important step in preventing ocean waste, with projections that by 2050 the world’s oceans will carry more plastic than fish (by weight).

Melbourne-born startup, Forkful, has been awarded funding through the City of Casey’s Circular Economy Living Lab Grant. The funds will enable the innovative food waste platform to roll out to Greater Melbourne within the next 12 months. Forkful works directly with businesses, allowing them to offer surplus food – that would otherwise go to waste – at a discounted rate to the local consumers.

Josh and Julie Niland have just signed a lease on a new 60-seat restaurant and bar scheduled to open in Sydney’s St Leonards in February next year. Petermen‘s mission is to champion the growers and producers that seek to elevate the standard and change the culture of how we consume food. The name is a nod to the 1400s vernacular, where fishers were known as Petermen in the tradition of their patron, Saint Peter. 

The sustainable food champions have also been honoured with the “Game Changer Award 2023” at the gala annual awards of La Liste in the heart of Paris. La Liste is a French-based guide that lists 1000 of the world’s top restaurants. Josh and Julie have created a global rethink of fish where they champion a butcher’s fin-to-gill approach in line with the nose-to-tail of meat.

Also making local Aussie food news in November, 50 Best Discovery, has added a bunch of new Australian restaurants and bars to the platform. In Melbourne, ARU, Di Stasio, Città, Etta and Gimlet at Cavendish House were added. Sydney establishments to make the list includeBistrot 916, Cafe Paci, Lankan Filling Station, Margaret, Mr. Wong, Oncore by Clare Smyth, Poly, Sean’s and Yoshii’s Omakase. And in Beechworth,Provenance also made the cut. 50 Best Discovery operates as an extension of the annual 50 Best rankings of restaurants and bars, though is not itself a ranking.

Grampians Olive Co’s olive oils have won numerous awards.

Also in local food news this month…

In November EATIVITY revealed the best herbs and spices for health. Wedived into the wonderful world of sea urchins, and put forward the case for urban Agriculture. We also rehashed old recipes for a glazed Christmas ham and shone the spotlight on an amazing local Aussie organic olive oil producer.

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