Rare and exotic vegetables gaining popularity in Australia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th March 2014
Rare varieties of old favourites are gaining popularity in Australia

Consumers are increasingly turning to obscure Australian-grown vegetables in an effort to satiate exotic dining desires, according to new market research from vegetable and potato industry body AusVeg.

AusVeg found that Australians were increasingly craving vegetable ingredients that were “not in the mainstream”.

“This demand could evoke a ‘hipster revolution’ for emerging and underground vegetable varieties,” said Felicity Powell, AusVeg spokesperson.

“Gay Choy, Taro and Winter Melon are among the lesser-known vegetable varieties of Australian-grown produce,” Ms Powell said. “They’re pretty underground, you’ve probably never heard of them, but if you want to spice up the kitchen or add a flavour of the exotic, these are right your alley,” she said.

Asian vegetables also popular

The survey of over 1,000 people, completed as part of an ongoing vegetable industry consumer research project, also found that Asian vegetables, sweet potato and baby spinach were among the top vegetables that consumers would like to see more of on their plates.

“It comes as no surprise that Australian consumers are demanding more exotic vegetable produce, particularly with the rising popularity of international cuisines,” Ms Powell said. “Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines are particularly in vogue, and our study indicated that they also provide the most diverse choice of vegetable produce,” she said.

Australians want to explore new varieties

The market research report also indicated a desire among consumers to explore new vegetable varieties, and for restaurants to experiment with innovative varieties of common vegetable produce.

“This report has shown that emerging vegetable varieties, such as the Tesoro tomato, which is a unique variety of tomato packed full of flavour and yet low in liquid, have huge market potential in Australia,” Ms Powell said.

While the Tesoro tomato is currently only available in the US, the variety is set to featured during the AusVeg 2014 Product Innovation Seminar, to be held in Cairns in June 2014.

The research project was funded through Horticulture Australia Limited using the National Vegetable Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.