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AU: National Queen Garnet Plum growth counters Queensland's heat problems

National volumes of one of Australia's 'superfruits', the Queen Garnet (QG) Plum, are on track to meet last year's totals, despite Queensland being significantly affected by the heat.

Global licencees, Nutrafruit says the increased production from the south and west has countered Queensland’s poor production, which has had a drastic impact for some growers in those regions.

"The 2018 season has seen increased production in Victorian and Western Australia due to ideal growing conditions and trees maturing in age and volume in NSW is at similar levels to 2017," CEO Luke Couch said. "Volume this year from the Stanthorpe growing regions has been well down on forecast. The hottest Queensland winter on record meant the required chill hours were not met on our largest planting and this saw volume at levels significantly down on previous years. Growers in all other regions in which QG is grown have had yields at or above forecast. Fruit size and quality for season 2018 looks improved on last year."

Queen Garnet is available in all domestic fresh produce markets, and while small volumes were exported to Singapore and Hong Kong in 2015, these have not re-commenced. Stone fruit was granted increased access to China, but Nutrafruit has no immediate plans to go down that path.

"Due to the demand of the domestic market and the returns the growers receive for fruit sold locally, it is unlikely there will be exports to China this year," Mr Couch said. "In the past 12 months Nutrafruit has substantially increased its exports of QG Nectar into Asian markets, particularly Taiwan and China. Interest and knowledge of the health benefits that come from QG consumption is extremely high in Asian markets and growing all the time. Exports to Asia for fresh fruit will increase as more fruit becomes available in the coming years.”

He adds that a significant number of trees were planted in 2015-16 to cater for the demand for Queen Garnet. These first of these trees will begin to produce fruit next year and increase in yield after that. 

While there is continual interest in growing QG from growers in all states, Nutrafruit is not looking to significantly expand tree numbers in the next 12 months. There will be small growth confined to the existing grower base.

Nutrafruit will soon have three products based on freeze dried Queen Garnet, which will mean a whole of crop solution with the only waste to be the seed. These new products will be available in the next 4-6 weeks. Mr Couch is hoping interest and consumer knowledge of the QG both domestically and overseas continues to grow at an incredible rate.

"As the global trend towards health and wellbeing grows so does the interest in the fresh fruit and the QG Nectar," he said. "There continues to be a large amount of research in a variety of areas using Queen Garnet. Consumers are increasingly looking to use food as medicine and the research behind Queen Garnet as well as the feedback from the general public via social media and online forums means that QG Nectar is an increasingly popular option in treating a variety of ‘lifestyle diseases’.

Studies into the health benefits of the fruit are ongoing with new research by the University of Wollongong, showing that consumption of a single serving of 300ml of the plum's juice resulted in a significantly lowered blood pressure over 24 hours, in the first human trials. The Queen Garnet's anthocyanins content has also been found to provide protection against a myriad of health issues including inflammation and obesity, as well as improving glucose metabolism, and offering powerful antioxidant properties, as it has approximately two times the levels found in regular plums.

“This research tested the unprocessed Queen Garnet plum and the effects the anthocyanin had on cardiovascular activities in humans. The results have been impressive and will now form the basis for larger human trials," Mr Couch said. "In addition to a balanced diet, the anthocyanin in the Queen Garnet plum nectar could prove a simple way for Australians to help reduce their risk of heart disease. Elevated and high blood pressure is a major health concern, with one in four Australians having unmanaged blood pressure issues. This research contributes to our understanding of the dietary ways in which people can reduce high blood pressure and reduce their risk of heart disease.”

For more information:
Luke Couch
Phone: +61 7 3217 1644

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