Home ||  Back Issue Contents  || Search ||

Issue 9: Sep-Oct 1998


Marketing the Bushfood Industry

This project was jointly-funded by the Rural Industry Research & Development Corporation, Bush Tucker Supply Aust. and industry Associations along with generous contributions from consumer researchers, Dangar Research Group and the Bushfood Magazine.

Research into the food industry's awareness and current perceptions of bushfoods was undertaken to ascertain whether the image of the category needs to be re-positioned. Additionally, an industry strategy was to be explored in an attempt to align efforts in addressing the image change and future marketing directions. The tactics necessary to effect the strategies are part of the next few months' research work. However, there are many steps which can and must be made by industry members as soon as possible for the strength and future of the industry itself.

Perhaps much of this work should have been instigated and developed by ANBIC although it may have been premature considering the timing and the existing critical mass of players in the industry at that time. Further, given the luxury of unlimited time and resources today, the results and actions from this research could benefit from wide input, discussion, debate, refining and acceptance.

Naturally, the researchers welcome positive and constructive feedback as the final research report is only due in May 1999. We have a history of dormant reports from ANBIC, Hart et al., Cotterill etc. There is a current over-supply of a growing number of crops along with an expanding number of new growers. Our peak industry body is becalmed although there is the promise of a breath of air, in the form of Ken Dyer's proposal for change. The Olympics are undoubtedly a significant opportunity and we are experiencing an unprecedented level offood innovation. The time for action is upon us.

Effort is now needed for members to commit:

1. to increase the profile of the bushfood industry and develop the industry's preferred image

2. to create the groundwork to realise many of the opportunities provided by the Olympics as well as building on the achievements of the past

Research results summary:

The overall outcome of the research to date is encouraging: All the indications are that native ingredients have considerably more market potential if appropriate strategies are used.

There is at least a segment of top class chefs and influential food writers who are enthusiastic about and strongly believe in native foods, which they see as underdeveloped. This is critical since it is very clear that there is a powerful top-down impact on the broader market's food adoption trends.

  • Australians are eating out more (and not just fast food). They are particularly frequenting small cafe style restaurants, bistros and brasseries in far greater numbers and are inevitably swayed by the dishes they encounter. These sorts ofestablishments are, in turn, alert to the trends amongst the top chefs.
  • Consumers' food tastes and their experimentation with food are also quite significantly moulded by the popular media: Food journalists, both print and TV are one of the bridges between the trend setting chefs and the community at large.
  • A number of the ingredients are perceived to have real food interest. In particular, their flavours, which range from the delicate to the intense, are thought to be distinctive and highly palatable. Other sensory cues are also mentioned (eg. the vibrant aroma of~ say, lemon-myrtle or the visual allure ofrosella). Once these qualities are discovered, it is felt that they will appeal to the creativity and drive to individual invention amongst chefs.
  • Native foods are also thought to have the capacity to bring another dimension, an exciting and unique Australian flavour to the country's rapidly evolving cuisine, This is widely recognised by both professionals and consumers alike, as innovative and possessing considerable flair.
  • There is strong interest at the consumer level in "the new bush flavours". Admittedly, this isgreatest amongst those with a keener interest in food (the foodies) However, their early adoption of the new, often migrates to the broader market even if sometimes simplified However ifnative ingredients are to be popularised and flourish, there are a number of inhibitions and barriers to overcome Critically and fundamentally, an unequivocal finding is that "bush foods" and especially "bush tucker" are inappropriate terms which will inhibit the growth of the industry 'Australian' is another term with mixed appeal and could be included in the inappropriate term category. However, some food categories suit the pioneer or outback image, for example, there is the success of the Bush Breads of Australia There will no doubt be others. Additionally, tourist markets find these labels entirely appropriate maintaining opportunities for boutique product ranges. Chef~ and food writers are familiar with these labels and strongly resist them, insisting that a more contemporary image is needed. Supermarket consumers are no less dismissive of these descriptors when it comes to everyday foods:
  • They have a parochial and "touristy" ring, which undermines the integrity ofthe products and positions them in a backward looking, gimmicky mould.
  • "Bush food" has inherent overtones of 'survival in the wild" (underscored by the activities of adventurer, Malcolm Douglas and more recently, the Army's "Bush Tucker Man"). There is no link with survival (I'll eat them when I need to) foods and appealing, modem, sophisticated foods.

From a number of descriptors assessed, Native Australian Foods (or Australian Native Foods) appears to be the most positive. It does not necessarily come across as a new term but still has an authentic ring and readily fits with the idea of natural or wild herbs, fruits and nuts.

The whole category not only needs a new name, it requires a new positioning, The first area looked at was the opportunity to link the foods to their Aboriginal heritage

However, while there is certainly increasing interest in and respect for many aspects ofindigenous culture, this does not extend to food. Mainstream Australia has no affinity with many of the images conjured up by Aboriginal diets - kangaroo, goanna, witjuti grubs and a nebulous array of 'yams and things' - and they have few taste cues and little appeal. Unfortunately, it is clear that the association with Aboriginal fare is not the way to go.

A new Positioning must imbue native foods with a number of values for modern consumers. These include prestige, modernity, food interest, flavour appeal and a growing pride in local produce. Additionally, the foods offer a uniquely Australian dining experience. Something along the following lines would be in order:

"Native Australian fruits, nuts and greens, aromatic herbs and pungent spices have tantalising unique flavours. They offer new delicious taste sensations and enhance the quality and bounty of the country's food and produce." Another prime barrier to overcome with native foods is lack of visibility and accessibility Even though some ingredients may now be impinging upon consumers' consciousness the perspective on the overall category generally remains very blurred and certainly few would know where to access products (This has an inhibiting effect on food editors who are reluctant town articles with ingredients "people can't buy".) In order to raise visibility and galvanise interest in the wider market, a multiple approach must be taken.

  • Products should be available in supermarkets and ideally introduced via in-store demonstration and sampling.
  • In this context, packaging must be modern (ie. not "cute", gimmicky or overlaid with old "bushie" images). It also needs to promise a new and exciting taste experience
  • A priority should be put on continued marketing to high profile food manufacturers who will support new products with advertising.

The market climate indicates that there are real grounds to pursue this route. This study may be relatively small but, very encouragingly, consumers were attracted to quite a few different products with evocative flavourings like wild lime, native pepperberry and lemon myrtle. However, it is essential that any new products are good quality.

  • The introduction of "hero" products, which can easily be incorporated into everyday cooking practices.

While some opinion leaders are keen on native ingredients, there is still considerable work to do here and particularly with chefs The issues are more complex than sheer awareness, although in the final analysis, they basically come down to two fundamental problems which need to be addressed:

  • There are no well-documented, long-taught methods such as those which support Western and Asian foods and disseminate knowledge about the traditional harmonies of flavour.

* The category lacks authority. This is despite the fact that many of the top opinion leaders can see more potential in it. Moreover, the fact that certain top flight, even revered, chefs do use some native ingredients (but rarely mention it) is still not sufficient. There are still no recognised champions from the "inner circle". As a consequence, some opinion leaders consider the whole category short on prestige.

To gain more credibility and to fire the enthusiasm and imagination of chefs, consideration should be given to the following:

  • The appointment of a spokesperson - a highly qualified and well regarded chef:
  • To act as a legitimiser of native ingredients by lending personal authority.
  • To help "educate" chefs and the media. An awareness of the natural companions of the individual ingredients needs to be credibly developed within the broad context of the contemporary 'fusion' cooking style.
  • Running a major competition amongst chefs for invention of 'seminal' dishes.
  • Setting up a Master Class or Chef's Dinners alotig the lines of the very well attended Le Torque Blanche in Melbourne.

Mounting joint promotions with game and other produce suppliers to restaurants.

Strategy checklist

  • Support the initiative of a peak industry body and ensure that the industry speaks as a dynamic, cohesive and professional unit.
  • all members embrace the industry image change and begin to effect the shift as an industry
  • all members promote the use of the currently available products to assist the industry in 'pulling itself up by its bootstraps'
  • Consistently use an appropriate generic category label: Native Australian Foods. Avoid anything with 'bush' unless locally or operationally appropriate.
  • Reposition the category to reflect the following values:
  • taste appeal, versatility and everyday use
  • innovation, creativity and easy use
  • clean, green, organic, healthy, nutritious
  • pride in Australian produce and cuisine
  • build the following image values into the category:
  • prestige and modernity
  • food interest and taste experience
  • sexy and stylish
  • international flavours but unique to Australia
  • Strengthen the category's "authority" (in food terms) and promote the existing avenues of education on ingredient characteristics and flavour harmonies.
  • Make native food simple, accessible and visible for consumers:
  • Get native food products into supermarkets with samplings.
  • Push manufacturers to include ingredients in popular types of products. Industry n-iembers to support and recommend these and potentiate their success.
  • Organise national promotions at a retail level eg. National Native Australian Food Week.
  • Get native ingredients on the food pages in the popular press (chef and media support ± consumer accessibility are pre-requisites to widespread coverage).
  • Emphasise quality of products.
  • Ensure that flavour ofprocessed products is as appealing and distinctive as possible. Pay heed to the preceding recommendations on packaging image.
  • Get fresh produce (eg. warrigal greens) in-store.
  • Develop freeze-dried or wet flavourings.
  • Promote organic production methods and environmental benefits
  • Recognise health as another important (early) opportunity.

The above framework, based on members' responses and opinion leaders' insights, provides the Native Australian Food Industry with some clear guidelines for positive change. The vehicles for this shift will no doubt be via industry associations, a developing national peak body and promotions through a national industry voice (such as the Bushfood Magazine). Tools available include State and National instrumentalities and allied food associations and the regional and specific food programs they promote. Over and above these is the influence for change which can be exerted by individuals through their own purchasing power, with their own industry and future at heart. The time has come for the Native Australian Food Industry to unite for a common cause. Through some strong cohesive actions, this uniquely Australian industry has the ability to become a significant force in the Australian food scene both here and overseas


This issue: Larry Geno

RIRDC Announces Bushfood Advisory Committee In late January, 1999, RIRDC (the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) announced their fourth bushfbod industry Advisory Committee, composed of John King, Juleigh Robins, Margaret, Bailey and Dion Dorward. The Committee will convene for calendar 1999.

Their role, as RIRDC appointees, is to advise R1RDIC's New Plant Products Program manager, Dr David Evans, on R & D proposals submitted to that program. Since the bushfood industry is yet to organise a national body for itself~ RIRDC chose to distribute the nominations to regional bushfood organisations for their comment. Irregardless of who was appointed and not commenting on the individuals concerned or their eventual performance, certain parts of this process (which I have been watching for some time) have to be questioned.

The original call for nominations was sent to regional groups, one unincorporated group and some active and independent individuals. There was a 2 week deadline to submit nominations Clearly, this was an insufficient time for any democratic process to occur within regional groups. The call for nominations stated that 'nominations should be made on the basis of relevant skills and expertise rather than on an industry sector, organisation and regional affiliation'. However, the final decision was made using new criteria of 'interest' and 'achieving geographical and regional coverage', changing the selection criteria. Independents had little opportunity to nominate and no opportunity to be involved in the appointment process. I believe a neutral, merit based process should have been employed.

Some unsuccessful candidates possessed considerable qualifications and RIRDC managing director, Peter Core, declines to state why they were unsuccessful. More importantly, it is clear that the selection criteria used in the call for nominations should not have been changed for other than objective reasons. Seven skill areas were wanted in the panel but only 4 people were appointed. No binding instrument exists in the appointment of this committee, there is a letter of appointment only. This means that there can be no guarantee of confidentiality for researchers. According to Senator Troeth, who administers the act regulating RIRDC, the committee didn't have to be chosen on merit. This clearly doesn't meet EEO guidelines. The committee as it stands has no producer/grower representation, no representation for independents and no indigenous representation. It also appears that there is no recourse to the appointments A future article on bushfood R & D will explore additional concerns and options for the industry.

Book Review

'You Can Have your permaculture and eat it too'

This book fairly bursts with inforrmation. It is a reference text that covers all the things you'd expect a permculture book to cover and more. It will appeal to backyard gardeners, small landholders, permaculturalists and commercial growers alike. Leaving the review to the last minute, I wanted to skim through but found myself reading closely so as not to miss a piece of it.

Enough of superlatives. Although this is not, strictly speaking, a 'bushfood' book, I found so many helpful hints and ideas in it that I am tempted to give it an honorary 'bushfood friendly' label.

My own experience of growing bushfoods is based firmly on a brown thumb background. I take advice wherever I can find it: some is good, some is forgettable. In the case of Robin's book, almost all of it is a welcome addition to my little storehouse of better growing and design ideas.

The book is organised along fairly traditional permaculture lines:

Principles, Ethics, Zone 1,2 etc. However, interspersed within this framework are some very individual gems. Gardens for children, onteresting hedges, pee pee fertilisers, greywater macro[hyte system, possible cash crops (not enough bushfood species however!), short and long term garden planning.. .the list goes on and on. Being a cook, Robin has also devoted a substantial part of the book to recipes. Once again, bushfood species don't feature as much as I'd like but the recipes lend themselves to endless adaptation.

There are sections on cosmetic plants/recipes, pest control, kitchen tools, cooking in bulk, food combining, edible flowers and more. Pushing the bounds of gardening to the limit, the book even ventures into party games which integrate left and right brain with ifin with food and do it yourself stories and songs.

The book is beyond review. You'll have to buy or borrow it and forage for for yourself.

'You Can Have Your Permacultre and eat it Too' available from:

Earthcare Education

58 Crystal Waters

Maleny, QLD 4552

Ph: 07 54 944 707

Quandong Recipes

The Australian Quandong Inustry Assoctatton

if you can get your hands on some Quandongs get your hands on this recipe book as well, it may be small (17 pp) but it's packed with recipes which range from the super simple ~Micro~'a~ Quandons 3 alt) to the moiC ambitiou5 (Marinated Quail) and just about ~vetythmg in between Quandong cake, bran muffins, liqueur, ice cream, chutney, sherbert - it seems ther&s very little you can't do with this versatile wild fruit - except grow it in rainforest! Ah well, I could always move.. having read these recipes, I'm tempted. The Quandong Recipe Book is available from:

AQIA, P0 Box 236, Upper Sturt, SA 5156. $8.85 includes postage within Australia.

What's Fruiting?

A far from exhaustive listing of bushfoods which are fruiting (or at least harvestable) at the moment. In subsequent listings, I will not include those which can be harvested year round.

Apium prostratum Sea celery Leaf Yr Round

Araucaria bidwillii Bunya bunya nut Seed Dec-Mar

Austromyrtis dulcis Midyim berry Fruit Jan-Jun

Backhausia anisata Aniseed myrtle Leaf Oct-Dec

Backhausia citriodora Lemon myrtle Leaf Yr Round

Backhousia myrtifolia Cinnamon myrtle Leaf Yr Round

Billardiera cymosa Sweet appleberry Fruit Nov-Apr

Billardiera scandens Appleberry Fruit Dec-Jul

Capparis mitchellii Wild orange Fruit Sept-Jan

Carpobrotus glausescens Nyullee, Pigface Fruit Dec-Mar

Carpobrotus rossi Coastal pigface Fruity peduncle Yr round

Cissus hypoglauca Native grape Fruit Sum-Aut

Davidsonia pruriens Davidson's plum Fruit Nov-Dec or winter (N QId sp)

Dioscorea transversa Native yam Tuber Yr Round

Diploglottis australis Native tamarind Fruit Nov-Mar

Diplogiottis cunminghamii Native tamarind Fruit Jan-Feb

Diploglottis diphyllostegia Native tamarind Fruit Jan-Feb

Discorea transervsa Yam Tuber Yr Round

Eleocarpus grandis Blue quandong Fruit Dec-Mar

Citrus glauca Wild lime Fruit Spring/summer

Eugenia reinwardliana Beach cherry Fruit Jun-Feb

Eupomatia laurina Bolwarra Fruit Nov-Feb - Apr-Jun

Hibiscus diversifolius Native hibiscus Flower Summer

Hibiscuis erophyllus Native hibiscus Flower Yr Round

Kunzea pomifera Muntari Fruit Sum-Aut

Mentha australis River mint Leaf Yr Round

Microcitrus australasica Finger lime Fruit Jan-Apr

Microcitris australis Native lime Fruit Dec-Feb

Ocimum tenuiflorium Wild thyme Leaf Yr Round

Portulaca oleracea Pigweed Leaf Yr round

Prostanthera incisa Cut leaf mint Leaf Yr round

Prostanthera rotundifolia Native mint Leaf Yr Round

Rubus fraxinifolius Atherton raspberry Fruit Apr-Nov

Rubus hilli Native raspberry Fruit Oct-Feb

Rubus parvifolius Small leaf bramble Fruit Oct-Jan

Rubus rosiflorus Rose leaf bramble Fruit Oct-Feb

Solanum chippendalei Wild tomato Fruit Oct-Mar

Sterculia quadrifidia Peanut tree Seed Oct-Jan

Syzygium luehmannii Riberry Fruit Dec-Feb

Syzgium suborbiculare Lady apple Fruit Dec-Mar

Syzygium australe Creek lilly pilly Fruit Dec-Feb

Tasmannia insipida Native pepper Seed, leaf Dec-Feb

Terminalia ferdinandiana Kakadu plum Fruit Mar-Jun

Tetragonia tetragonoides Warrigal greens Leaf Yr round

Famous Palates

brought to you by More than a MORSELMorsel

Famous and near-famous folk who have enjoyed bushfoods in recent weeks:

Cold Chisel

Beach Boys

Janet Jackson

John Farnham

Mthony Warlow

Olivia Newton-John

Boyz 11

Men Matchbox 20

Jenny Morris

Tango Passion

John Fogerty

Bob Dylan (again!)

More then a Morsel were also asked to supply a personal chef for Janet Jackson during her Australia-NZ tour and included Lemon scented myrtle tea as a throat tonic.

The chef reponsible for the following dishes is Fairlie Malcolm.



Bush Plate - Lemon in myrtle crocodile skewers, roo proscuito, camel steak Bushettas with assorted bushfood toppings


Akadjura blackened fish served with creamy layered potato, rocket and onion marmalade

Mountain pepper beet steaks with sweet potato puree

Roasted root vegetable curry with native riberries

I-tome cooked chicken and home-made potato chips with Lemon myrtle mayo


Roasted kumera and macadamia nut

Bushoise - our Aussie version of the famous French salad

Mixed leaf with Lemon aspen vinaigrette


Rosella and apple crumble with ice cream

More Research News


Bushfood Industry Database - Summary of Industry Consultation

Outline of consultation

The consultation explored the bushfood industry's requirements for a database. The purpose of the database is to address information deficiencies that hinder the growth of the industry. These information deficiencies were identified in previous RIRDC studies.

Who was consulted?

The study team aimed to consult with the main industry players and a selection of other stakeholders. The stakeholder selection sought to in- elude at least one representative from each of the diverse groups that form the industry.

Form of the consultation

The framework for the consultation was based on a nine point questionnaire. However, the detail of the discussion depended on the particular role played by the organisation and its particular interest in the industry. Organisations differ in the benefits they may derive from an Australian Bushfood Industry Database, and their willingness and ability to contribute to one.

Sonic of the larger industry players may need to assess how a bushfood industry database would impinge on their operations. They have established their own information chains, and are not pressing for a bushfood industry database. For them, the impact of bushfood industry database is uncertain. In fact, the potential risks (an inappropriate form could damage not only the emerging bushfood market but also their business) could outweigh any benefits. However, if the database took the form of an appropriately designed, interactive, dynamic internet site, then we expect these players would see two-way hyperlinks as mutually beneficial.

Key findings

Lack of information hampering industry growth. All members of the bushfood industry agreed that information deficiencies are hindering industry growth - growers were uncertain not only on the availability of new types of bushfoods and what they might offer, but also on the risks of further investment in the dozen or so bushfoods that have been commercialised at present.

Despite this need for information, many suppliers felt that the deficiencies in information could not be easily meet by a database. For example, many in the industry doubt whether useful price information can be obtained for the database. Other useful commercial information is similarly tightly held. Grower groups or associations could pool price information to get averages while preserving confidentiality, but this requires cohesion and trust between all growers of the same food, and this is not always present. Nevertheless, the study team believes that grower and harvester organisations may be able to assist by collecting and pooling information, perhaps only on production, and making it available in sum- niary form to members, possibly on a subscription or user-pays basis.

Another problem was that practical, commercial practice information for bushfoods is limited - those with such information are unwilling to share it without sonic form of recompense.

A requirement for some form of recompense for hard-earned know-how favours the directory ('yellow pages') form of database over the encyclopedia form. The "yellow pages'' listings would allow information providers and information seekers to find each other and hopefully agree on conditions for information exchange. Importantly a bushfood industry database could contain both encyclopedia and yellow pages type of information - the directory information would complement the publication of useful fact sheets containing publicly-available information for new growers.

Who would benefit?

The consultation suggested that all organisations and individuals with an interest in bushfoods could benefit from a bushfood industry database. These include potential users, including the consumers, tourists, potential growers restaurants interested in enhancing their menus, wholesalers, and exporters. However, of the beneficiaries, only' the grower/supplier soups would consider any financial contributions to support the ongoing costs of the database.

Database Technology: New Vs Old

Low levels of computer skills among some grower associations require that the database information be available in printed form. A combination of email, fax, telnet, possibly voice mail, and post can be appended to a computer database engine that drives an internet site. Information stored on CD-ROM can be distributed cheaply. Users requiring database information in print form said they preferred loose-leafed fact sheets so that their information can be cheaply and easily kept up to date.

Financing the database

We assume that the on-going running cost of database would be ultimately financed by industry after an establishment period. Our consultation suggests that the main source of industry funding would be the growers/collectors (existing and potential). These are the most dependent on database information and would benefit most from it, Amongst suppliers, there was a consensus towards a subscription-type of levy. Whether this would be enforced is a matter that would have to be further considered by the producer associations and harvester cooperatives.

Those parts of the site that contain information for growers, for example, prices, could be restricted to paid-up members by use of password. The alternative of user payment before downloading information sheets received limited support. The potential for the site to earn advertising revenue appears very hinited, as many of the more significant players have, or are developing, their own web site.

Many organisations currently charge between $50 and $100 a year for membership. This level of contribution should be sufficient to support on-going database costs.


Ultimately the responsibility for database information services would fall to a peak industry body (FIB) representing the interests of all members. Implementation Ultimately the responsibility for database information services would fall to a peak industry body (PIE) representing the interests of all members. Thus, one option is for ANBIC (or a successor) to perform the organisation and management tasks associated with the database.

Our consultation suggests that this young and growing industry has not yet achieved the maturity to speak with one voice. There is still much 'jockeying for position". This suggests a phased transition towards a peak body is an option worth considering.

A phased transition would see individual associations and cooperatives given assistance towards setting up their own database/web site. The resultant web sites could be much less ambitious than an industry web site but would nevertheless represent a significant step towards a national web site.

Ownership and management of the database by grower associations could have significant cost advantages. Learning and build-up of computing and networking technologies would be distributed through the industry, rather than being concentrated within a single office. Moreover there may be ways to keep costs of multiple sites low. For example, the different associations and cooperatives could use common elements in the database structure and data processing that the web page builds on.

Some commonality in design could also reduce costs. Ultimately these individual web sites could link, not only to one another, but also to a national web site.

The consultation showed the multi-faceted nature of the industry and revealed its many dimensions for growth. The dozen or so bushfoods that appear to have an established n1arket position may expand their market share. Industry growth may also take place through market acceptance of a expanding range of yet unrecognised bushfoods. On the growing side, growth may take place either through new large-scale plantations or through an increase in the number of small producers. in arid regions growth may come from improved wild harvesting. This wide range of growth opportunities makes it more difficult for a young industry to present a united front to government in identifying where market failure is hampering its growth prospects. it probably also means that the industry as a whole is unlikely to support a single central database that covers all regions and bushfoods. There: are essentially two models for database management and organisation:

A single central responsible organisation, perhaps with links to regional or product specific support groups,

specialist bodies serving growers/harvesters with common problems, perhaps with links to a central body.

Grower support will ultimately determine which is the better option. In turn, grower support will be determined by the nature of the collective problems they face. At issue is:whether bushfood suppliers face common problems, and if so, would collective solutions benefit all growers: or, t whether their problems depend mainly on what they grow/collect, their production methods, their climatic/ecological zone. etc.


An industry database(s) would assist industry growth, and, if appropriately designed and implemented, would receive industry support. The database(s) should have a web site as their public face, but must incorporate distribution of fact sheets to update database information main- tamed in loose-leafed folders.

The study team believes that the industry, at this time, favours the distributed database option over the centralised option, and expects that a government initiative that assists supplier associations and or cooperatives to set up their own databases will receive broad support. These databases should preferably be sufficiently common in design to allow controlled cross-exchange of information between each other. The supplier associations could also adopt a common approach in obtaining links to and from support organisations (such as the RIRDC-supported University of Queensland New Crops site, the department of agriculture networks, plant breeder rights, CSIRO, and relevant commercial organisations.)


Australian Native Hibiscus Preserve

Colleen Keena

(Microwave Method)

Petals only from 10 large flowers of any colour 1/4 cup of lemon juice

1/2 cup of boiling water

2 cups of sugar

Detach petals from calyx and discard calyx. Chop petals into small pieces. Place hibiscus petals in a very deep pyrex bowl. Cover the petals with the lemon juice.

Cook in microwave for four minutes on high.

Add boiling water and sugar and stir thoroughly.

Cook for a further two minutes on high. Stir. Do this twice more. Let mixture cool for approximately one hour.

Cook for four minutes on high. Stir. Cook for a further two minutes on high. Stir. Let cool slightly and pour into a sterilised jar.

Refrigerate before using.

This recipe produces a rich red spread with the consistency of honey. It has a distinctive flavour and is delicious on toast or scones. Can also be used as a glaze or diluted with vinegar for sauces or marinades.

(c) Copyright by C. & G. Keena & Hibiscus World

Gumtree & Honey Macadamia Dressing (serves 10)

80 ml salad oil 60 ml fresh lemon juice

15gm sugar 5gm paprika

5 gm black pepper 5 gm

dry mustard

5 gm lemon zest 120 ml gumtree honey

5 gm celery seed (optional) 1 garlic clove (optional)

30 gm macadamia nuts, roasted & chopped

Place all ingredients in a scew top jar. Shake vigorously. If using the garlic, cut clove in half, add to dressing & chill for 12 hrs or more before using. Remove garlic clove before serving.

Garlic & Bush Pepper Cream

4 garlic cloves 5 gm bush peppers

600 ml olive oil 200 ml champagne vinegar

Qty salt 10gm chopped lemon basil

3 egg yolks

Chop garlic & combine with pepper. Whisk into egg yolks with vinegar as for mayonnaise. Add oil in a stream until all is incorporated. Season with salt & lemon basil.

Blue Gum Fine Foods Recipes

Lemon Aspen Curd Tartlet (serves 1 0)

Crumb mixture

30 gm breadcrumbs

mom seed lemon curd filling

2 lemons - rind grated

200 gm sugar

250 gm unsalted butter

6 egg whites - stiffly beaten

30 gm sugar

1 1/4 gm ground carda30 ml lemon aspen juice

3 eggs - well beaten


225 grn sugar

Make crumble mix in a bowl. Dust over the bottom of pastry shell while shell is still warm. Make lemon curd in top of a double saucepan. Add lemon rind, juice, sugar, eggs & butter. Set over hot, not boiling, water. Stir with wooden spoon over low heat until mixture is consistency of thick cream sauce. Pour into shallow 22cm cake tin & put into freezer for 15 mins. When lemon curd is firmly set, put it into pastry case. Use rubber spatula to scrape out of pan & pat it evenly into case. Slowly beat sugar into egg whites. Continue beating until whites are stiff. Fill piping bag fitted with #8 or #9 tube, with the meringue. Pipe out large scallop shapes to cover the lemon curd completely. Sprinkle meringue with castor sugar & bake pie for 10-15 mins until meringue is delicate golden brown. Cool pie & place in refrigerator to chili for 1 hr before service.

Muntharie & Apple Pie (Serve hot with ice cream or clotted cream)

1 batch pie pastry

6 large apples

2 1/2 gm lemon zest

5gm cinnamon

1/2 gm ground cloves

15 gm all purpose flour

5 gm sugar

15 ml milk

200gm muntharie berries

15 ml fresh lemon juice

120gm brown sugar

1 1/4gm nutmeg

1/2 gm ground ginger

15 gm butter, cut into bits

dash cinnamon

Peel, core & thinly slice apples. Toss apples & muntharies with lemon juice & zest. Mix flour, sugar & spices. Toss with apples to coat. Roll half dough into round to fit pie plate. Fill shell with muntharie & apple mixture. Dot top with butter. Roll remaining dough into round large enoLigh to cover top of apples. Place carefully over apple & muntharie filling & crimp edges of crusts together. Make slits into top crust tovent. Mix sugar with cinnamon. Brush top of pie with milk & sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 23Odegrees for 10 mins. Reduce heat to 190C & bake for extra 20-30 mins.

Naturally Australian, Naturally Guaranteed.

Margaret A, Bailey

Articles and other material in the July - August issue of the Australian Bushfoods magazine pinpointed some of the concerns I have.

Ken Dyer referred to "Groups primarily representing 'typical' bushfood growers large and small." (Australian Bushfoods magazine, Vol 8. page 15). As a former executive member of ARBIA (Australian Rainforest Bushfood Industry Association), I became aware of the wide range ofbushfood growers. They can be categorised as follows; I growers on a very large scale - often indirectly as participants in investment schemes, usually based on a single species 2 large scale growers contracted to a central operator- with plantings of a single species numbered in several thousand 3 large scale private growers - also with plantings counted in thousands and also mostly ofone major species 4 medium scale growers - with plantings counted in hundreds rather than thousands, either concentrated on one species or ofa number of species S small scale growers - with plantings of fewer than one hundred, often of several species 6 home gardeners - with a few bushfood plants in their back yard 7 Growers - often small to medium scale, with bushfoods grown in association with another enterprise, eg farm forestry, ecotourism, small scale processing

Out ofthese categories those who are independent, individual, coinmercial growers have specific needs and, I believe, need their own association

Firstly, who are the commercial growers? As Rob Fletcher pointed our in his article (Australian Bushfoods magazine, Vol 8. page 20) "To plant a new crop species without knowing what the product will be and who will buy it, is not a commercial undertaking but a hobby" Commercial growers are therefore those people with a Clear and well, researched business and marketing plan and who are economically viable producers. Which of the various categories includes such people? Clearly people in Category 6 are not commercial growers, and there are non-commercial growers in other categories also.

Secondly, who is an independent grower? Those who are simply investors are not, (Category 1) and those growing under contract are not as they will be receiving material and acting on the direction ofthe contractor (Category 2).

Thirdly, I also believe that the membership of this association should be for people who are organic or biodynamic farmers certified with the existing certil3t- ing bodies, or in conversion. Although many growers are organic or biadynamic by choice many are not. But, as pointed out by Dave Forrest during the bushfood Course given by Wollongbar TAFE, no non-organic pesticides or herbicides are labelled for use with bushfood species and therefore all growers should be organic or biodynamic, Growers who are not organic or biodynamic will no doubt apply the standard horticultural practices to their bushfood crops. But those who are organic or biodynamic growers need to work together to develop appropriate practices and establish and maintain standards for these crops. This will also have marketing implications and, I believe, benefits. The Association should be structured with sections for each individual species. Any individual member would be able to belong to one or more sections, Each section would provide information and develop standards for that species. One model is t,hat provided by the Australian Quandong Industry Association (Australian Bushfoods magazine, Vol 8. page 29) with information for the intending and practicing Quandong grower of the sort that all growers need, This type of information, and more, is needed for all species.

Information is also needed on standards. Over the last two or three years standards in the food industry have become far more stringent than in the early days of growing bushfoods. For the serious commercial grower, quality assurance will have to be taken on board despite the costs involved. Members would also need to be kept informed of all the regulatory and legislative requirements for sale inter- and intra- state and for export and other current and any new Australian and New Zealand food standards.

The main purpose of the Association would be to certi~i that member met the standards set and thus provide a guarantee of the quality of product purchased from its members (both raw product and processed). The Association would not be a marketing body but could have a promotional function and serve as a clearing house for information on supply and demand.

I have stressed that this Association would be for commercial growers. 1 think wild harvesters would do well to develop a similar type of organisation. There is room also for more generalist bodies, encompassing a range of interests to which people who are not involved in commercial production could belong.

Two other related issues were implicit in the questionnaire in Issue 8 of the magazine, one of which was future directions of the industry and the other being the question of the name - Bushfood or ? In relation to fUture directions, there would be considerable benefits in making stronger links with the current moves to support the development of regional cuisines, it would also be useful to examine developments in other agricultural industries, particularly the wine and dairy industries.

In both of the wine and dairy industnes there is the gradation from mass market generic production to the small scale, high value, niche market production, which is usually identified by its place of origin, and which provides the highest profile for the industry.At this level, the bushfoods industry needs its greatest input, support and development. High quality/ high value products, identified on a regional basis could be associated with the development of regional cuisines in the mn-up to the second "Tasting Australia" event in Adelaide in 1999. This event provides a great opportunity for raising the profile of and establishing markets for bushfoods.

This brings me to the question of the name - Bushfoods or what? 1 have found that using the word bushfood mostly elicits a very negative response. Only Australians use the term 'bush' with the meaning that we give to it. So, first, the Australian meaning has to be explained and then the sense that these are survival foods for when you are lost in the desert has to be overcome. My view is - forget it. Let us talk instead about Australia's o~i~ natural food resource and give them their individual names. Afler all, the macadamia industry promotes macadamia and Tea Tree oil is promoted as such, while we in Australia manage to buy foreign foods with their own names, for example Pak Choy

In summary, I think it is important that we grow and produce Australia's own natural food resources, preferably in ways that are appropriate to the Australian environment, indeed this could be an important selling point we promote individual products by their own names identif~'ing them on a regional basis: and we establish an industry Association oflndependent Commercial Organic and Biodynamic Growers of Australian Food Plants (AICOBGAFP), with the structure I have outlined for the purpose of gudranteeing the highest quality ofproduce. I hope that the points I have made on these issues will generate further discussion - and actions


Hibiscus & Hibiscus Like Plants - Colleen Keena
Formation of National Body - from the Editor
Research Results
More on a National Body - Margaret Bailey
More on Hibiscus - Colleen Keena
Not Just a Beautiful Bloom - Colleen Keena
A Look at Standards - some suggestions from the editor
Simplicity of Good Design - A look at a bushfood plantation
Small is beautiful - John Wrench
The Atherton Raspberry - Larry Geno, grower
Wonder of Raspberry - Larry Geno
American Wild Foods - John King in the US
Observations: Warrigal Greens - The Editor learns by experience
Suckers, Sex and Seedlings - Dr Barbara Randall on the Quandong
Marketing the Bush food Industry - Vie Cherikoff reports
Comment - Larry Geno
Book reviews - 'You can have your permaculture and eat it too'
Book review - The Quandong Recipe Book
What's Fruiting Now?
Famous Palates (Olivia Newton-John etc)
More research News