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AU: Rainbow Silverbeet sales growing steadily for one Australian producer

A major Victorian Silverbeet producer says its decision to produce the rainbow variety is paying off, with the vegetable steadily growing a market in Australia.

Corrigan's Produce Farms grow Silverbeet year-round from its base south-east of Melbourne, and Managing Director Deborah Corrigan says that it was a famous Aussie chef that encouraged the company to branch out into the coloured form.

"It was after a visit from Curtis Stone to our farm where he mentioned that Rainbow Chard (Silverbeet) was popular in the USA," she said. "We started trialling it and then began commercial production in 2014. We trialled different varieties and colours to make the bunch as vibrant as possible. Sales are similar with our regular Silverbeet however Rainbow Silverbeet sales have increased over 50 per cent."

Ms Corrigan says Silverbeet is very popular in the Winter seasons when people are cooking hearty meals, like soups and casseroles. However, the demand is usually higher in the warmer months.

"There is a constant and steady demand for Silverbeet in the market, however, Rainbow Silverbeet has been steadily growing a market," Ms Corrigan said. "When we went to market It had a slow start – which often happens with new lines. Our customers made comments like 'it looks good' but were sceptical if their customer would buy it. It's interesting to note that Rainbow Silverbeet has made appearances on and off in the market over the years, however it never got any market traction. The bunches were tiny and did not present very well. We worked on how we believe the bunches should present and on the colours of the bunches."

Silverbeet is a cool climate vegetable and struggles in the warmer weather. It is much more difficult to grow and cultural practices and varieties must be tightly managed. Corrigan's Produce Farms say other growers either struggle or drop out of period, which resulted in their product being in high demand. It is not only the appearance but the vegetable has several health benefits that appeal to the consumer.

"Silverbeet is high in vitamin K It’s also packed with vitamins A, C and E," Ms Corrigan said. "It is high in fibre and contains riboflavin and B6. It has high concentrations of manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and other minerals It is also are also high in beta-carotene, a strong anti-oxidant."

The company's Managing Director says that Rainbow Silverbeet is a very old vegetable dating back to the 1600’s. It was not commercially available up to the 19th Century. Its varieties are descendants of “sea beet” which grows along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.

Corrigan's Produce Farms supplies Rainbow Silverbeet to Coles, as well as Melbourne and Sydney markets. While it exports some of its lines, like Kale and Celery, it is looking at Rainbow Silverbeet for export at some stage - and Ms Corrigan has a useful storage tip for household consumers.

"My recommendation with the Rainbow Silverbeet is to put in in a vase in the kitchen. Not only does it look great it keeps better," she said.

For more information:
Deborah Corrigan
Corrigan's Produce Farms
Phone: +61 3 5998 5202 

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