Consumers are increasingly seeking to understand where their food comes from. This is highly relevant in Australia’s Native Food industry with attributes such as indigenous involvement or wild harvest being consumer value drivers. In fact supply chain traceability and transparency underpins the trust and integrity of the industry. This challenges looks to leverage technology to ensure that what consumers want is what they get. These consumer expectations can include :-
A guarantee that the product is in fact what it states itself to be. For example that Kakadu plums are Kakadu plums.
That stated conditions of supply are met such as wild harvest or sourced through Indigenous led businesses.
Assurance that the stated origins of the products are in fact true. For example backing up a claim that the product is sourced from the Kimberley region or even sourced from a specific farm or tree.
Harvest, cleaning and handling
Most horticultural and agricultural crops have undergone extensive transformation to ensure plants conform to a specified set of agronomic expressions that allow them to be harvested and handled easily. These could be growing to a particular height, ripening at a specified time, or having seeds that are all uniform in shape, weight, and size. These crops are often grown in vast monocultural environments to further assist processing. For most of Australia’s Native plants, this is not the case. In fact to impose this accepted system onto these plants could nullify the important contributions they can make to the environment and health. It could also destroy the important cultural identity of these plants and their Connection to Country and First Nation’s People.
This poses many handling challenges to the production of Native Food including :-
the significant loss of yield through plants shedding seed intermittently,
harvest contamination with other seeds, fruit, and foreign matter,
Plants readiness for harvest at different times.
This challenge area aims to resolve these challenges by adoption or adaptation of associated agricultural technologies or through a technology invention.
Extracting more from less
Australia’s Native plants are rich in bioactive compounds with many proving to have highly valued properties such as anti-inflammatory or anti-fungal capabilities, just to name a few. Extraction of these compounds however can be difficult. Degradation, purity, and yield are constant challenges to be overcome. With the world constantly searching for new molecules, this challenge area looks to leverage technologies that exist or are under development to increase the extraction efficiency to allow more to be delivered from less, therefore reducing environmental impact and increasing the financial viability and growth potential of the industry.
Wild Harvest – Covering Country
The wild harvest of Australia’s Native foods is conducted in many different Australian climates and often involves long hot days, demanding physical labour and no guarantee of a viable yield. In several cases however, the supply of Australia’s Native Food is dependent on wild harvest. This challenge looks to increase the viability of wild harvest through the adoption of technology that can make the process more comfortable and efficient.