A Victorian fresh produce business is finding that demand is quite strong for its organic cauliflower, which is in its first year of production.
Butler Market Gardens last year began producing organic broccoli, and General Manager - Sales and Marketing, Andrew Smith says this year the company has expanded its vegetable range.
"It was successful and we decided to add another crop," he said. "As it is our first year of cauliflower production, we have been quite conservative with our numbers. Should it be a successful season, then we will increase our numbers next year. As with any new crop, the first couple of weeks required us to make some adjustments based on our customer feedback."
The organic farm is located in northern Victoria. There have been major water shortages in the region for some time, however, Mr Smith says this winter there has been some good rainfall at times.
"It is a seasonal crop for us, as it gets too hot in summer to grow cauliflower. Our season runs from June to November," he said. "As it is our first year of cauliflower, we don’t have anything to compare to, however, we are finding demand is strong. If the quality is good, there are no issues with selling the product."
Broccoli is the other winter line, but this season has seen a glut of product in the market, which Mr Smith says, at times, has made the product more difficult to sell - perhaps the result of restricted exporting capability due to COVID 19.
The company only recently expanded into organic production, and while this is the first season of cauliflower, Butler Market Gardens has run two summers of zucchini production, in addition to the broccoli.
"We have found that adding an organic arm to our business has been quite seamless because we had existing infrastructure to work with," Mr Smith said. "There has been no impact on the rest of our existing business. Although organics is currently not a large percentage of our business, we see this increasing in future years."
He added that at a consumption level, as more certified organically produced product becomes accessible, consumers will migrate towards organics.
"Generally, based on the conversations I have with people within the industry, and without looking at any industry data I feel certified organic produce is and will continue to increase," Mr Smith said. "It is certainly the case for us. Our customers are always asking “what other products can you grow for us?” So the demand is there. I believe during these uncertain times regarding health, the general population will certainly put more emphasis on becoming a healthier person. This will mean increased vegetable consumption including organic vegetables."