Sweet success ahead for Northern Australia’s Kakadu plum industry

| August 12, 2018

Northern Australia’s Kakadu plum industry is poised to secure a slice of the $US130 billion functional foods market, thanks to a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project launched at Darwin’s Parliament House today.

The three-year, $2.7 million project brings together researchers from the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Institute and industry partners the Kimberley Institute Limited (KIL), Charles Darwin University (CDU) Kindred Spirits Enterprises – Traditional Homeland Enterprises (T. H. E.) and several different Indigenous Resource Centres and communities including Tharmarrurr Development Corporation, Bawinaga Aboriginal Corporation and Delye Outstation in the Northern Territory and communities in the Kimberley WA.

The CRCNA is co-investing $500,000 towards the project which will identify what is working well and what can be done to improve processing and storage methods, distribution of Kakadu plum products and training across the harvesting, manufacturing and marketing sectors of the industry.

CRCNA Chief Executive Officer Jed Matz said significant opportunities exist within the Kakadu plum value chain.

“The Kakadu plum is a very versatile product and this project showcases the opportunities which flow from investing and building a stronger value chain, such as more training and career opportunities for Indigenous communities.”

UQ’s Associate Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa said the Kakadu plum industry offered significant opportunity for growth.

“Demand and growth for Kakadu plum products here and overseas is expected to be around 10 per cent annually, with significant opportunities emerging in the nutraceutical, supplement and pharmaceutical industries, so looking at how we can improve the value chain to better capture these new markets will be a key focus of this research.”

The first stage of the Kindred Spirits Traditional Homeland Enterprises (T.H.E) Kakadu plum project started in 2013 at the request of the Women’s Centre and Traditional Owners in Wadeye, Northern Territory.

It has since expanded to include other harvesting communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The enterprise currently processes and sells Kakadu plum fruit, puree and powder products.

Kindred Spirits Enterprises Executive Officer Ann Shanley said the CRCNA project will bring together lessons learned about the existing value supply chain and apply research techniques to identify how the Kakadu plum industry can grow its market share through new products and marketing opportunities.

“Our potential customers keep telling us they want to use Kakadu plum in food products, cosmetics, nutraceuticals – but they need information about how they can do so.”

Growing the market and increasing demand also creates opportunity for local Indigenous harvesting communities to grow their enterprises and their local economy,” she said.

Mr Matz said the project presents an exciting opportunity for Traditional Owner-led enterprise across Northern Australia.

“Importantly for the CRCNA, this project promises to further develop the economic opportunities for Indigenous communities by driving investment and creating new jobs and training across generations.”

Some of the potential commercial products which might result from this project include dehydrated KP products for multiple usage such as in breakfast cereals, energy and health bars, high fibre products and bio-active extracts for natural preservation.