KULYU, samphire and warrigal greens – all native foods grown in Australia – are tipped to be the nation’s next buzz foods.
They are foods survey participants and focus groups have identified they know little about, but are largely keen to buy more.
Additionally, consumers are prepared to pay the premium for native products.
In Australia, there are more than 6000 different native food varieties, with 40 presently commercially available in Australia.
At Australian Native Food & Botanical’s Grow the Grower seminar in Adelaide last month, chairperson Amanda Garner predicted that figure to rise.
“Food is an attractive conversation, and the industry is on the way up,” Ms Garner said. “People are more aware about the native industry and there’s a lot of interest in the media, the land management organisations that are realising it’s an interesting space.”
The native food industry has grown from a nice idea of an advocacy body to a membership growing at an unmanageable rate, but Ms Garner said she would not have it any other way.
Ms Garner said ANFAB was aiming to undertake its first ABARES scoping study to identify how much the organisation and industry had grown.
“We have gone from a valued industry of $125 million five years ago, and I would estimate we have increased that by about 20 per cent to 30pc,” she said.
“As health benefits and medicinal properties of unique Australian plants are being discovered, the market demand is sky high, especially from the national and international pharma and nutraceutical companies.
“Demand is far outstripping supply.”
But what Ms Garner said was crucial for the native industry was retaining locally grown produce in Australia.
“Australia is renowned for exporting our commodities, and we import so much product for our food tables,” she said.
“To be able to expand our native food industry, we need to look at expanding growing, but also awareness in the general population to say, let’s start growing and take up some of that market space.”