NEWLY introduced origin labelling laws have opened up an opportunity for passionfruit growers as food processors seek out Australian-grown product.
What's more, they are willing to premium, pay out-of-season prices for product if they can get their hands on it.
Vice-president of the Passionfruit Australia management committee, Jane Richter, addressed growers at the Passionfruit Australia Regional Field Day in Bundaberg yesterday, saying she had received many inquiries from food companies wanting Aussie-grown passionfruit pulp.
"There has been a huge spike in interest in Australian processed passionfruit," Ms Richter said.
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Since July 1, food product producers have been required to label the percentage of their product that is made or grown in Australia.
Ms Richter said many companies, particularly dessert makers, were becoming frustrated that they could only put "90 per cent" on their labels due to having to use imported passionfruit.
"There is a set of customers there already available," Ms Richter said.
"Everybody just wants Australian passionfruit."
In speaking with the companies, Ms Richter said she quoted rough figures for out-of-season fruit and they "didn't bat an eyelid" at a willingness to pay it.
She said the economics have changed dramatically for passionfruit and the prices for processed fruit may now match class-2 product.
The figures would mean passionfruit growers would get more than just cost recovery for their processing fruit.
"This area (Bundaberg) has the numbers to make it viable," she said.
She also said a NSW family passionfruit farm had decided to stop its processing operation and was looking to sell the complete equipment installation for producing passionfruit pulp.
Field day delivers
THE Regional Field day was held at the Innes Park Country Club followed by a farm walk at nearby Bruce and Tina McPherson's property.
The information sessions focused on soil health with Allan Mahoney from biological systems company, Multikraft, giving a presentation on the value in using compost and getting soils right.
About 40 people attended the event from many aspects of the supply chain including wholesalers, growers and agricultural product representatives.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers' managing director, Bree Grima, also presented information on local issues of concern to the organisation, including gas exploration permits and nodal water use proposals.
Passionfruit Australia's Jane Richter gave an outline of a long-term export project and the potential for passionfruit growers.
She also said Passionfruit Australia would be looking to deliver scholarship-assistance to growers wanting to further their study in the crop, plus the development of a web-based forum for growers to share information about crop concerns and issues.