An introduction to Tasmania’s food and beverage advantage

Tasmania, a group of Australian islands washed by the unpolluted Southern Ocean, has won respect as a supplier of fine, safe food. Celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda said recently: ‘I think of Tasmania as beyond organic.’ More than a quarter of the total land area of 68,300 sq km (about the same size as the Republic of Ireland) is committed to food production, while a 3,200 km coastline is ideal for catching or growing excellent seafood. When Tasmania was selected as the centre piece of a Restaurant Australia promotion in 2014, the head of Tourism Australia, John O’Sullivan, described the State as an “emerging food and wine superpower.”

Seasonal advantages

Tasmania, a temperate Australian island group, is ideally positioned to supply out-of-season fresh food to the northern hemisphere. When it is winter in the north, it is summer in Tasmania. Crops are at their peak and are being harvested and prepared for export.

Irrigation

Recent large-scale irrigation projects have increased cropping land. The new infrastructure protects farmers from drought and has opened the way for diversification of farm activities in drier regions.

‘As a food lover with a passion for natural flavors, I knew I had found a paradise’

Tetsuya Wakuda on his initial visit to Tasmania in 1990.

Ideal climate and soils

Tasmania has an ideal temperate growing climate and some of the world’s most fertile soils. Rain is plentiful in traditional growing areas.

No genetic risks

The Tasmanian Government has placed a moratorium of at least five years on the commercial production of genetically modified crops. Hormones and antibiotics are not used to promote growth in livestock – good news for health conscious consumers.

Unique biosecurity

Recent concerns about food safety in an increasingly polluted world have focused attention on Tasmania’s famously clean air, ample supplies of clean water and freedom from many of the outside world’s pests and diseases. The State is officially free of the Mediterranean fruit-fly. A European berry producer has recently invested in Tasmania because ‘the biosecurity is unique in the world.’

Low chemical use

Tasmanian farmers have no need to use many of the chemicals that are routinely applied to food crops in other regions. This means Tasmanian food is more natural and healthier.

Modern methods

The people who operate Tasmania’s farms take pride in being at the cutting-edge of production methods, packaging and marketing. Primary industry innovation is supported by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and private-sector specialists.

Digital farm data

Sense-T uses real-time data from sensors, along with spatial and historical data, to build a digital view of the entire state. Sensors used include tiny ‘back-packs’ carried through the environment by bees. Sense-T is unique and it is transforming the way Tasmanians manage their food production.

Fully flavored and safe

When you buy Tasmania’s gourmet products you know you are dealing in fully flavored and safe food and beverages.

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Food options READ MORE

The range of products is constantly diversifying as farmers take up opportunities to grow new crops and aquaculture operations investigate new species and respond to changes in market demand. Tasmanians are finding novel ways to add value to many new crops. World-class raw materials have attracted outstanding chefs who are inventive and eager to collaborate in the development of a distinctive Tasmanian cuisine. Food events, such as the Taste of Tasmania and Festivale attract gourmet visitors from throughout Australia and around the world, helping to create a unique food culture.

Meat

Angus, Japanese oxen, (known as wagyu in Japan) and other selected breeds produce prime, tender beef, much of it pasture-fed. Lamb, venison, wallaby, pork and other meats are also delectable – and safe. They are found in niche markets around the world where quality is more important than price. Not surprisingly, gourmet food shops offer sophisticated meat products, award-winning sausages and delicious pies.

Dairy

The dairy industry flourishes because of reliable rainfall, excellent pasture, quality livestock and human creativity. Tasmanians can supply a full range of dairy products, including more than 100 varieties of gourmet cheese that dominate Australian dairy awards. Milk powders and formulas are among the safest in the world.

Vegetables

Tasmanians grow about 25 per cent of Australian vegetable exports. Potatoes, onions and carrots are the major crops, but farm businesses are versatile and increasingly diversified. Barley, wheat and oats are the most important grains. Farmers have adapted quickly to take advantage of opportunities to grow new crops including buckwheat, wasabi and ginseng. Tasmanians have found new ways to add value to locally grown wasabi and other products. Black truffles are being exported to France and Asia.

Fruit

Cherries are a major export crop and apple varieties include royal gala, red and golden delicious and red and striped Fujis. Pears, apricots, and a range of berries are also grown. Walnuts are an established export, especially to Germany, while hazelnuts are an emerging crop.

Seafood

Tasmania is famous for its fine seafood, earning more income from the sector than any other Australian State.

Tasmania’s seafood platter can include fresh and smoked salmon, large and cocktail-sized abalone, sweet-fleshed rock lobsters, ocean trout, oysters, blue mussels, scallops, smoked eel, salmon caviar, sea urchin roe, giant periwinkles, giant Tasmanian crab, trepang, octopus and squid. Clams and the edible seaweed undaria are boutique products. The deep-sea catch includes bluefin and yellow-fin tuna, blue eye (trevalla), blue grenadier, pink ling and many others.

Sustainability

Wild fish stocks are protected by quotas when necessary. The delicious red-shelled southern rock lobster is protected at present through a quota system, size limits and seasonal closures. Most rock lobsters are exported to Asia.

The fast-growing Atlantic salmon sector outstripped the total of all other fisheries in value for the first time in 2007 and continues to grow strongly. Tasmanians are committed to sustainable aquaculture practices and are world leaders in many aspects of fish farming.

Aquaculture

Tasmanians have developed world-class aquaculture handling methods; sophisticated quality-assurance and transport systems; and have excellent research back-up. Atlantic salmon, ocean trout, Pacific oysters and blue mussels are big business.

Wild abalone

Tasmania is the world’s largest supplier of wild abalone, producing 25 per cent of total global production. There are no pollution problems and over-fishing is avoided. Large black-lip and green-lip abalone are harvested from cool, clear waters by divers, while an emerging abalone aquaculture sector supplies cocktail-sized abalone. Abalone is the next most valuable species after salmon; followed by rock lobster and giant Tasmanian crab; Pacific oysters; blue mussels; octopus and squid.

‘A piece of quality blue-vein cheese drizzled with leatherwood honey is a simple but sublime dessert that communicates better than any words the purity of tastes I have found in Tasmania’

– Tetsuya Wakuda

Honey

Aromatic, full-flavored leatherwood honey gathered in temperate rainforests attracts a world-wide following. One major producer has achieved organic certification. Pasture honey is widely available, along with honey from the manuka shrub that is famous for its medicinal properties.

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Beverages READ MORE

Because of their location in the unspoilt Southern Ocean, Tasmanians are blessed with the world’s cleanest rainwater which they bottle and sell to the world. This wonderful water is the base for an array of fine beverages that have won many international awards. Whether your preference is a cool-climate table wine, a world-class single malt whisky, a carefully brewed beer, a refreshing cider or a temperate climate fruit drink, there’s a business in Tasmania that will be happy to meet – and exceed – your needs.

‘I only put maps in of the major whisky production countries in the world. And Tasmania’s getting to that stage where it actually deserves its own map!’

Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible.

Whisky

The world of whisky was rocked in 2014 when a Tasmanian single-malt was judged the best whisky in the world at the World Whisky Awards in London. Six Tasmanian distilleries had already won Liquid Gold status in the Whisky Bible. Tasmanians have exported whisky to Scotland; have shown Scots the best way to build boutique distilleries in Scotland and have won many international accolades. The industry, founded in 1993, is based on boutique, hands-on distilling, high-grade malting barley, excellent water and local peat.

Other spirits

Tasmanian distillers also produce gin, rum, liqueurs and a vodka that has won a best in show award at an international event in the United States.

Wine

Tasmania produces the finest sparkling wine in the southern hemisphere. It is Australia’s oldest productive wine region and is unrivalled for the quality of its cool-climate wines, most notably sparkling wine and pinot noir.

Chardonnay and riesling are the most widely planted white varieties and a Tasmanian chardonnay has won a world best award. The industry, which is mainly artisanal, has built on the delicate flavors and varietal character of its table wines to expand steadily in recent decades. There were 230 vineyards operating in 2016 with a total bearing area of 1,746ha. Tasmania’s largest vintage was recorded in 2016 with 15,343 tonnes.

Tasmania’s wines are crafted from grapes grown in climates similar to those of the famous European wine regions – with mild summers and long autumn days that ripen the grapes to provide a natural elegance and intensity of flavor.

Prices paid by wine producers for Tasmania’s cool-climate grapes, particularly pinot noir and chardonnay used in sparkling wine, are the highest in Australia. Local growers sell all their production, even in times of national grape gluts. It is no surprise that the industry has attracted investment from other parts of Australia, as well as from Switzerland, China, the US, France and Belgium.

Beer

World-class hops, excellent local barley and pure water have encouraged Tasmanians to practice and constantly improve the art of brewing beer. Local brewers are well positioned in Australia’s premium beer market and one Tasmanian product can claim to be the most-awarded beer in Australian brewing history. Aside from two major breweries, Cascade and James Boag & Sons, there are many boutique producers.

‘If Tasmania produces any seriously ordinary wine of any variety, I failed to find it’

– Jancis Robinson, global wine authority

Ciders and fruit drinks

Once known for its exports of fresh apples, Tasmania is now noted for its ciders of excellent quality, including organic ciders and pear ciders. Cascade is a large-scale producer and many boutique businesses have emerged in recent years. Tasmanians also produce quality fruit cordials, juices, soft drinks and mixers.

Water

Rain clouds that roll constantly from the west towards Tasmania contain water of incredible purity. The clouds are carried across a zone known as the Roaring Forties, which lies south of polluting land masses, before meeting Tasmania’s western mountains and shedding their precious moisture. This exceptional water is the raw material for a thriving rainwater and mineral water industry. Cloud Juice from King Island is shipped to Europe, while other businesses supply national and international markets.

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