Organic farm to expand with $250,000 grant

Green Camel has developed technology that helps overcome environmental risks often associated with growing organic produce. Through a range of biological processes, Green Camel produces organically certified leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and barramundi in a symbiotic manner.

Green Camel’s proprietary system operates as a semi-closed biosphere – inside a state-of-the-art glasshouse – where waste from fish production is captured and transformed into nutrition for the horticulture. The system addresses the issues of waste from aquaculture, increases water utilisation, and decreases input costs and environmental burdens of horticultural production.

With the $250,000 grant from the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, Green Camel will expand production capabilities and build a protected cropping area to grow organic raspberries and blueberries using their unique growing system.

Green Camel Founder and Chairman Adam Steel said: “In an environment where water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity, our farming model is thriving.

“We use our water reservoirs to grow fish, and every single drop used in aquaculture is then used to grow crops. It means every drop of water and every joule of sunshine is accountable.

“We are striving to deliver consistent organic produce within an industry that has traditionally been subject to substantial production variability.

“We are grateful to Woolies for their support and look forward to meeting the evolving demands of consumers seeking highly quality, organic produce at a good price.”

Woolworths has seen demand for organic produce grow at a rate of 20 percent year-on-year for the past five years. The $30 million Organic Growth Fund has been established to help Australian farmers boost production and consistency of supply to meet the growing consumer demand.

Woolworths Head of Produce Paul Turner said: “We’re seeing incredible growth in customer demand for organic fruit and vegetables, and the trend is only set to continue in the years ahead.

“We’re delighted to be working with local organic farmers like Green Camel to build the capacity that will allow us to meet the growing demand for organic produce.

“Green Camel has invested in a highly sustainable and innovative system to grow organic tomatoes and leafy greens, and it’s fantastic to see them expand into berry production. We’re excited to see what this Organic Growth Fund grant will unlock for Green Camel and our mutual customers.”

Demand for vanilla beans to surge

The global vanilla bean market is driven by the bakery, ice cream, confectionery, and soft drink segments of the food and beverage industry. Vanilla is an exotic flavour, which is still at the forefront of consumer food preference due to its neutral taste and versatility in a  range of food and beverage products. Consumer demand for fortified, as well as functional foods with health benefits, is rapidly growing. These factors are primarily driving the demand for vanilla beans, globally.

A new report by Future Market Insights, a company that specialises in reporting on the food industry, presents an opportunity assessment of the global vanilla beans market with in-depth insights on the key market dynamics impacting revenue growth of the market for vanilla beans across various regions. According to analysis, the global vanilla bean market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.7 per cent in terms of volume over the forecast period 2018-2027.

Organic farming is getting popular in many countries due to the increasing awareness of the hazardous effects caused by chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Chemicals used in fertilisers and pesticides enter the food and water chain, and lead to long-term health problems in humans, while side effects in animals at the lower level of the food chain can also be seen.

Besides health concerns, chemicals also affect soil quality. While the proportion of organic farming is low, it is expected to increase in the near future. Major vanilla bean production in the world is carried out in low income countries and by small-scale farmers. The farmers in these countries lack proper facilities and finances in order to buy chemical fertilisers and pesticides. According to many claims, vanilla bean production is done organically. However, these manufacturers lack proper certifications from authorities. Many large food and beverage companies are introducing social welfare and sustainable sourcing initiatives in vanilla farming communities, educating them about the importance of organic farming. Additionally, increasing consumer preference for organic products is likely to increase the growth of the organic vanilla bean segment over the forecast period.

The report on the vanilla bean market further presents detailed insights on the different applications of vanilla beans and the main regions from where vanilla beans are sourced. According to a senior analyst, “Vanilla beans impart a commonly used natural flavour, which predominantly finds application in industries such as food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, etc. Vanilla beans are also the most sought-after and expensive spice after saffron. Products that use vanilla as a flavouring agent include ice creams, yogurt, perfumes, candles, moisturizers, cakes, soft drinks, shampoos and conditioners, biscuits, lip balms, cigars, tobacco, coffee, and tea, among others. Vanilla beans that are available in the market are predominantly Madagascan vanilla beans, Indonesian vanilla beans, Mexican vanilla beans, Indian vanilla beans, Tahitian vanilla beans, and a few other varieties such as Tongan, Ugandan, etc. Out of these types, Madagascan is the variety that is in most demand due to their unique, rich, and creamy flavour.”

“The current market for vanilla beans is dominated by vanilla beans from Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico, China, and India, with a lesser extent from Tonga, Uganda, Turkey, and the Reunion Islands. The origin of vanilla beans is in the Mesoamerican region, which includes countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Vanilla beans contain vanillin, vanillic acid, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, sugars, lipids, cellulose, minerals, and water, which are all variable depending upon the variety of the vanilla beans. Vanilla beans belong to the Orchidaceae family that comprises almost 20,000 species, of which, vanilla beans are the only edible fruit.”

The increasing establishment of food processing companies in Asia Pacific, as well as growing outsourced food production and co-packing in countries such as China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, due to the abundance of economic labour and accessibility to key shipping ports, has led to the region’s emergence as a key consumer of herbs and spices, including vanilla beans. Prominent vanilla producing countries such as Madagascar and Indonesia have well-established supply routes to key vanilla processing plants located in this region. Additionally, investments by producers of vanilla-based products in the development of the extraction and processing of vanilla in this region are expected to substantially increase the demand for vanilla beans over the forecast period.