Aussie Aussie Aussie: Why supporting Australian companies helps keep our food scene vibrant.
Posted by Jane De Graaff on October 11, 2011.
Food Guru talks to a couple of iconic Aussie brands about why they are proud to be Australian.
When Jo Mitchell was running her providore shop, stocking beautiful products from all over the world, one question kept coming up again and again.
“Customers would ask what could go with my lamb and lamb chops.” Says the creator of Spoonfed Foods. “But we just didn’t have anything that would really compliment cuts of specific meat and the only thing around at all was horrible, watery mint jelly.” She laughs; pointing out that there’s little point in great quality cuts if you can’t dress them with great quality accompaniments. What followed was the development of the iconic Spoonfed Jams, a range of savoury jams specifically designed to compliment ham, sausages and most recently seafood, among other things.
Neither she, nor co-founder Jenny Waterman could have imagined the way in which their Australian made product would be received into the culinary landscape. With her knowledge and experience, not only had Mitchell identified a hole in the market, but she also recognised that an Australian company, with access to and inspired by the bounty of Australian produce, would be the ideal starting point for this new idea.
“There was this big gap in the market, so I thought ‘Lamb Jam, sweet and savoury’… So we decided it needed to be a savoury jam, a new product, not a chutney or something that already existed.”
Inspired by the produce that comes from within Australia, Spoonfed grew into a unique range.
“It’s an Australian kind of genre, it’s fairly unique and no one has really done savoury jam yet. It’s conceived, developed and made here. All our food products and ingredients are sourced locally; maybe from Queensland, maybe NSW- but it all comes from Australia. We only get our sour cherries from Europe [because there isn’t a reliable Australian source]. But everything else is Aussie and as local as possible.” Says Mitchell with pride; after all, it’s inspired by an Australian palate.
It was a similar story for Sarita Merlo, naturopath, herbalist and founder of the iconic Byron Bay Tea Company. Though limited by access to certain ingredients, the first stop when sourcing is always Australia where possible.
“At Byron Bay Tea Company, we always try to source Australian grown ingredients before we search overseas. Unfortunately, the herbal growing industry is very small in Australia and there is a limited range and supply of what we can actually obtain within Australia. But obviously, all native Australian ingredients come from Australia, such as lemon myrtle, aniseed myrtle and roasted wattleseed.” Says the tea maven. Inspired by her naturopathic training and the lush fecundity of the Byron Bay hinterland (and her flourishing herb garden), Merlo created a product that reflected the bounty and the healing nature of the land around it.
“The quality of Australian products is fantastic. Our lemon myrtle and aniseed myrtle is grown in the rich red soil in the hinterland of Byron Bay. It’s grown biodynamically and organically and the aroma is amazing- it infiltrates our factory every delivery we get!”
Despite limitations on ingredient availability, Merlo is proud to point to the fact that the company and product is Australian.
“Everything is blended and packaged in the Byron Bay hinterland at our factory.” She says. “I think that people like to know who is making the product. We are a small boutique tea business and the herbal teas are formulated by me.”
Both Merlo and Mitchell agree that without the support and positive response for their Australian businesses, their products would simply not be a reality.
“First, it creates jobs.” Says Mitchell. “Second, we have beautiful produce in this country and passionate people who create it, so buy it and use it, it’s good for everyone. Australian products contribute to the food landscape and bring people something new. We encouraged people to develop their palate and try new things and that raises the bar.”
So next time you’re looking for a gourmet product to add to your pantry or to parcel out as a gift to your friends, why not take some time to see if it’s the gift that keeps on giving, supporting Australian companies and encouraging the development of our distinctive Australian palate and culinary options.