This week in local food news
What’s the latest in Aussie food news this week? The cost-of-living issue is really hitting home, with prices continuing to rise across all food categories. But these price hikes aren’t necessarily leading to any extra cash in our farmers’ pockets. On the fresh food front, Aussie avos are now easier to spot, while banana growers face yet another problem. Also making food news, a flashy new event will shine the spotlight on NSW produce, and the world’s largest “food sport” event is set to take place in Australia next month.
Farmers reveal tips to save on groceries
With the price of groceries rising at supermarkets around the country, NSW Farmers has revealed the number one way to avoid price hikes: shop at local independent greengrocers instead. NSW Farmers staff checked prices on popular fruits and vegies last week. In southeast Sydney, bananas, potatoes, oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers were all at least a dollar a kilo cheaper at a greengrocer less than 100 metres from a major supermarket. There were even bigger savings on mushrooms and celery, while onions were less than half the supermarket price. Seasonal produce was also markedly cheaper.
Time to end farmers’ raw deal
As supermarket prices climb, you might be surprised to learn that some farmers are not seeing one extra dollar in their pocket. “While prices are on the up, farmers remain price-takers, at the mercy of the formidable bargaining position of processors and retailers,” says National Farmers Federation (NFF) CEO Tony Mahar. “Many farmers continue to be ripped off, with little to no protection from Australia’s competition law.” This election, the NFF is calling on both major parties to commit to the competition law reform needed to level the playing field for farmers, small businesses and, ultimately, consumers.
Manufacturing cost pressures leading to price rises
Australian Food & Grocery Council CEO Tanya Barden says Australian food manufacturers are facing cost pressures that are starting to flow through to supermarket shelves. “Over the past decade, wholesale prices have risen by less than the cost of inputs,” she says. In the past few years, the cost of shipping ingredients to Australia has risen by 500 to 700 percent. Added to this is the cost of COVID safety measures, domestic freight cost increases caused by weather events, pallet shortages and rises in the cost of packaging. Now, manufacturers are facing increases in global commodity prices due to the war in Ukraine. Barden says manufacturers can no longer afford to absorb those increased costs.
Buying Aussie avocados made easy
In fresh food news, recent research from Avocados Australia found that 55 percent of consumers found it hard to identify Australian-grown avocados at supermarkets. Luckily, supporting our avocado growers has just become easier. The industry has released new avocado labels that feature the iconic kangaroo and our national colours: green and gold.
Online sales “killing off” banana industry
An increase in the popularity of online grocery shopping due to COVID is having a devastating impact on the banana industry. According to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), banana sales are down by 20 percent. Speaking to ABC News last week, ABGC Chair Stephen Lowe said that bananas ordered online often arrive damaged. Many online retailers also sell the fruit per banana, rather than by weight, driving up costs. Both issues have led to a decline in sales. “We urge consumers to please continue to show your support and by a #nana4afarmer,” Lowe says. “Just adding a couple of extra bananas in your shopping basket will make a considerable difference to our growers.”
Unhealthy eating: the new smoking
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed that unhealthy eating is the new smoking. Overweight and obesity is now the number one risk factor contributing the highest cost to our health system at $4.3 billion, compared with $3.3 billion for smoking. Of the top 20 most expensive risk factors identified in the report, nine are directly linked to diet. “Not everyone smokes, but everyone must eat,” says Dietitians Australia CEO Robert Hunt. “We can’t afford to keep pushing this issue aside.”
Lighting up NSW produce
Great food, love letters to Sydney, music, wine and light will combine to create a feast for the senses on Saturday, June 4, at the first ever Vivid Sydney Dinner. The event, held in the ivy Ballroom, will see two of Sydney’s most-revered chefs, Dan Hong (Mr. Wong, MuMu, Ms G’s) and Mike Eggert (Totti’s), join forces to deliver a bespoke NSW-inspired menu featuring local produce including local seafood, Pecora Dairy cheese and Burraduc Buffalo Dairy yoghurt. Tickets to the Vivid Sydney Dinner are on sale here.
Cooking up some champions
The world’s largest food sport event, World Food Championships, is coming Down Under at Sydney Showgrounds (May 27-29) and Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (July 8-10). The competitions have now received more than 350 entrants from across the country. The Australian debut of this three-day live culinary event will see some of the country’s most passionate home chefs battling it out in seven categories: Seafood, BBQ, Burgers, Chicken, Beef, Vegan and Dessert. Six winners will win a Golden Ticket entry to compete for the 2022 World Food Champion titles in Dallas, Texas. For more info, click here.
Make a swap for the sea
Renowned Bondi artist Easty Beasty is painting a sustainable seafood-inspired mural on the seawall at Bondi Beach to encourage people to use the Australian Marine Conservation Society GoodFish sustainable seafood guide. The new mural will show sustainable fish species painted in blue facing forwards towards healthy oceans. This will be juxtaposed with unsustainable species painted in red. It’s hoped that the mural, titled “Make a Swap for the Sea”, will inspire more Australians to make more informed seafood choices.
New treats to munch on
Doritos has launched a 3D version of its corn chips. The Doritos 3D Crunch range will be available in three flavours – Extreme Cheese, Spicy Salsa and Sweet Chilli. Meanwhile, Allen’s has released vegan-friendly chewy lollies called Jubees. Both products are now available at all major supermarkets. Finally, Dairy Farmers has launched three new, limited-edition flavoured milks. Ruby Chocolate, Mint Chocolate and Choc Chip Cookies flavoured milks will be available at major retailers in NSW, SA and Qld from this week.
Also making food news this week…
Monday was Anzac Day, which means Anzac biscuits! Hayden Quinn shared his top tips on creating the perfect batch of bickies. Also on the cooking front, food writer Julia Busuttil Nishimura shared her top tips for cooking with kids, plus two easy, kid-friendly recipes. While we’re in the kitchen, we also took a look at the food waste problem in Australia, and shared simple, practical ways you can cut your own waste at home. This week we also profiled two amazing Aussie producers – Qld edible flower farmer Simone Jelley of Pretty Produce, and the No Nasties Project, which is taking aim at our national sugar intake.
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