News bites: berries, blues & biscuits

9th April 2021 | Eativity editors

Pineapple on a pizza: big culinary no-no, or totally acceptable? This particular foodie debate has been going on for decades, but according to a recent survey, many Australians are fans of the fruity topping. If you count among their number, you’ll be keen to get your hands on a new pineapple pizza-inspired product that’s been announced by Arnott’s.

Also in news this week, Queensland strawberry growers have come up with a unique method to lure locals into fruit picking, a South Australian partnership has set its sights on the booming marine bioproducts market, scientists have cracked a problem that’s been the bane of the food industry for years, and we’ve got some rather saucy news for AFL fans.

Pick strawbs, help our growers and win cash. Lots of cash.

Qld strawberry industry dangles big cash carrot

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) is offering a cash prize of $100,000 in a bid to entice local workers during the winter strawberry harvest. In a novel idea designed to solve the labour shortages currently plaguing horticultural industries, the QSGA has announced a plan to turn the harvest season into something like a competition.

Workers will be able to earn “points” that will count as entries into a draw, which means the longer you work on a strawberry farm the more chances you’ll have to go in a draw to win $100,000 at the end of the season. Ten workers will then be selected by a computer and will have the chance to play for the big cash prize.

“We’ll have a little strawberry patch,” QSGA president Adrian Schultz told abc.net.au. “There will be 100 envelopes in that strawberry patch. One of those envelopes will have $100,000 in it and every other envelope will have $1000 in it.”

Other monthly prizes will also be available, including weekend or week-long holidays to local tourist destinations that can be taken once the season is over.

According to Shultz, the industry will need about 7000 workers to pick Queensland’s strawberries over winter. To find out more, head to qldstrawberries.com.au

Australia is well-placed to profit from the seaweed functional food market.

Could seaweed be the next vegan trend?

Flinders University has teamed up with SA’s Australian Kelp Products to turn seaweeds into value-added commodities, producing seaweed-derived ingredients and functional food products that will appeal to the ever-growing number of vegan health food consumers.

While countries such as Japan, China and South Korea dominate the market for edible whole seaweeds, Westerners are becoming increasingly fond of seaweed food products, and Southern Australian waters host one of the highest diversities of seaweeds in the world.

Seaweed products and extracts are now a common sight in health food stores and pharmacies, and their bioactive compounds can have strong antioxidant effects. Seaweeds also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as iodine, vitamin K, B vitamins, iron and zinc, which can promote gut, skin and brain health.

The Flinders/AKP partnership seeks to adapt the active compounds of local seaweeds into a booming industry pathway of healthy functional foods for vegan and organic food consumers. Australia’s vast shoreline and pristine waters hold a myriad of untapped, renewable bioresources and opportunities to enter the international marine bioproducts market, which is estimated to be worth more than $175 billion a year.

Love it or loathe it, pineapple on pizza is now in biscuit form.

No fooling – Hawaiian Pizza Shapes are real

Arnott’s sent social media into overdrive on April Fool’s Day when the Shapes social media accounts teased a new flavour of Shapes – Hawaiian Pizza. Despite speculation that the news was just another April Fool’s Day prank, Arnott’s can confirm that the Shapes Hawaiian Pizza are indeed real. And despite the generally accepted consensus that pineapple on pizza is a culinary outrage, it appears most Australians are fans of the combination.

Research commissioned by Arnott’s revealed that 66 percent of Australians believe pineapple is an acceptable topping for a pizza, and 70 percent have eaten it.

The new Shapes Hawaiian Pizza will be available exclusively in Coles from mid-May.

Out of the blue? Not quite: food scientists have been working on this particular problem for years.

A new, natural blue

Scientists have developed a naturally-sourced food colouring that could replace synthetic blue food colouring in the food industry. The long-sought-after natural cyan blue, which was obtained from red cabbage anthocyanin pigments, may provide the alternative to FD&C Blue No.1 — although more testing is needed to determine the compound’s safety.

“Blue colours are really quite rare in nature — a lot of them are really reds and purples,” says Pamela Denish, a graduate student working on the project.

Having the right blue colour is also important for mixing other colours, such as green. If the blue isn’t right, it will produce muddy, brown colours when mixed.

The research team has been working on this particular project for more than a decade, and after screening millions of enzymes and protein sequences, they’ve now discovered a unique anthocyanin in red cabbage that provides a natural alternative to artificial blue food colouring – and a solution to the long-standing blue dye challenge facing the food industry.

The team used synthetic biology and computational design tools to determine the structure of the anthocyanin which, thanks to its unique 3D inter-molecular arrangement (whatever that means), can be altered to produce a rare natural cyan blue colour.

AFL fans now have a new way to show their support. Go Hawks!

Give a big squeeze for your team this footy season

Heinz is helping footy fans make a mark with their game-time pies and sausage rolls this season, with the creation of limited-edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles that celebrate our AFL clubs. Specially introduced for the 2021 season, Heinz has released 18 AFL club-themed bottles, representing every team vying for this year’s Premiership Cup.

The bottle designs will inspire nostalgia in fans across the states, featuring iconic 90s club mascots from Tiger “Stripes” Dyer from the Richmond Tigers and “Slammin” Sam Tomcat from the Geelong Cats to Rick “The Rock” Eagle from the West Coast Eagles.

The bottles are available at Coles stores nationally. But you’ll need to be quick off the mark, as they’ll only be available for a limited time. Exclusive merchandise bundles will also be available via the Heinz To Home e-store, including a Drop Punt Bundle, which includes a Heinz AFL team ketchup bottle and a team scarf; and a Specky Bundle, which includes a Heinz AFL team ketchup bottle, a team beanie and team socks.

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