This week in Australian food news
Dreaming of drumsticks? You could soon be in luck. The chicken meat industry says that the chook shortage situation looks to be improving. However, citrus and potatoes could be in shorter supply, after severe storms tore through huge swathes of crops in NSW and Victoria. Also making news in Australian food, the Shepard avocado returns, a new research program launches to address a major threat to banana growers and Smith’s releases a rather noisy new range of snacks. Plus, Aussie lamb invites world leaders over for a barbie and Rabobank delivers the annual Australian food waste bill. Hoo-boy, it’s a whopper.
Crops decimated by wild weather
A freak hailstorm has wreaked havoc in the citrus-growing region of Griffith in NSW, with some growers now looking at years before their next harvest. The sudden hail ripped into fruit and stripped bark from trees, causing estimated crop losses of up to 100 percent on some farms. The resultant damage will either mean costly picking with no crop to sell, manual thinning and pruning or mechanical hedging that could see no crops harvested for three years. Two weeks ago, severe storms also damaged up to 95 percent of potato crops in Victoria’s Ballarat district, which supplies around 50 percent of the state’s potatoes.
The current chicken shortage crisis in supermarkets and at food retail outlets could soon be over. According to the Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF), consumers should now start to see more chook available on supermarket shelves. The industry is hopeful that it can start moving into the recovery phase. However, the full range of products normally supplied won’t be available for another week or so. Simpler, less labour-intensive products such as whole chickens will continue to be available. In the meantime, the ACMF is encouraging consumers to get creative with the smaller range currently available.
Barbie at ours?
Following the release of the annual summer lamb ad, The Lost Country of the Pacific, Australian Lamb has launched an international billboard campaign to remind the world why Australia, and its lamb, shouldn’t be forgotten. The campaign, “Letters to Leaders”, invites global leaders, and even WA Premier Mark McGowan, to head back Down Under for a lamb barbie. The series of humorous messages have launched in major cities around the world and will be in London, New York, Paris, Auckland and Perth until Sunday, January 30.
Take a deep breath, Hass lovers. The much-maligned Shepard avocado is coming into season, with fruit expected to hit stores mid-February and last through to April/May. Australia is the only country in the world that grows Shepards commercially; they’re predominantly grown in Far North Queensland. You can spot Shepards by their bright green skin, which doesn’t darken upon ripening. The flesh also doesn’t turn brown when cut.
Aussie research to beat banana threat
Australian scientists are working towards the development of banana plants that are resistant to a deadly disease that’s threatening global production. Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is a soil-borne fungus that has impacted plantations in most banana-growing regions, including North Queensland; Asia including the Philippines, China and Indonesia; the Middle East; Africa; and most recently, South America. Currently, the disease, which cannot be eradicated, survives in the soil for decades. To combat the threat, the Queensland University of Technology and Hort Innovation have launched a $9.8M research project that aims to develop two new banana varieties that are resistant to TR4.
Quite the pickle
Perfection Fresh, the maker of Qukes baby cucumbers, has partnered with Aussie condiments manufacturer Three Threes to make pickles out of mini cucumbers that don’t fit the current packaging format. Rather than letting this produce going to waste, the partnership enables Perfection Fresh and Three Threes to use Qukes as part of the new McAlpine Signature Range. The pickles will be available at Woolies and Coles.
The waste land
We might be facing food shortages right now, but Aussies are still wasting a fair whack of their grub. The annual Food and Farming Report by Rabobank has revealed that the annual Australian food waste bill for 2021 topped $10.3 billion. This is roughly 11 percent of the food purchased in each household. This waste amounts to enough to feed every household in Brisbane — 1.1 million households — for a whole year. Across the board, fruits and vegetables, as well as bread and pastries, were wasted more than any other food.
Like a tiger
If ever a new year needs some good luck, it’s 2022. Sydney and Melbourne’s Spice Temple is embracing the Chinese custom of welcoming in good luck for the year ahead, with feasts of auspicious dishes planned for the coming Lunar New Year celebrations. Executive Chef of Spice Temple Sydney and Melbourne Andy Evans and Melbourne Head Chef Joshua Kerr have curated Chinese banquet menus to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. The banquets are available from February 1 to February 13 at Spice Temple Sydney and from February 2 to February 13 at Spice Temple Melbourne. To book, head to spicetemple.com.au.
Smith’s has released a new range of chips, cranking up the crunch factor with a new Double Crunch range. The chips have deeper ridges and two times the crunch of Smith’s regular crinkle-cut chips. Smith’s Double Crunch is available in three flavours: Original, Ultimate BBQ Ribs and Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings. As well as being a tasty, crunchy treat, Double Crunch chips are also a handy way to break awkward silences.
Hot cross bran
It’s a mere eleven weeks until Easter, which means hot cross buns are now appearing in supermarkets. And this year, bun-lovers can even enjoy an Easter treat in their brekkie bowl. Kellogg’s has released a limited-edition Sultana Bran Hot Cross Bun flavour. The cereal combines malted flakes and sultanas with cinnamon and spice flavours. Try it with warm milk to bring out the spicy scents. It’s available exclusively at Woolies.
This week at Eativity…
To mark Australia Day, we shared a brief history of some of our most iconic Aussie foods, and got a little inspiration from top chefs about what they were dishing up for Oz Day. We also celebrated Australian agricultural ingenuity, profiling Our Cow, a paddock-to-plate meat subscription service that’s building a stronger connection between farmer and consumer. To help you get back into the swing of the working week, we also shared some epic sandwiches that should really spice up your lunchtimes. And because we could all use a little more pep in our step, we also took a look at the best foods for an energy boost.
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