As Australia heats up, fruit growers are bracing for one of their busiest plum seasons

Facing a chronic shortage of summer workers due to Covid-19 restrictions, farmers will likely throw millions of tonnes of unpicked crops in the bin – with some even destroying established trees.

But researchers from the University of Southern Queensland are harnessing the power of purple fruit in the nation-wide war on waste. They are working with Brisbane-company Nutrafruit to maximise the use of the Queen Garnet plum.

The Queensland-born fruit was created accidentally by the Department of Primary Industries in Stanthorpe ten years ago. Containing anti-cancer properties and a special group of fat-burning antioxidants called ‘anthocyanin’, with the fruit selling for around $9 a kilogram in current market. However, it is the Queen’s nectar and freeze-dried powder that has royally spiked the interest of food scientist Dr Polly Burey from the University of Southern Queensland.

“Our researchers will work closely with Nutrafruit to find out more about the Queen Garnet plum supply chain and how to maximise the entirety of the crop,” Dr Burey said. “Last year, 20 per cent of the fruit was classed as lower-grade and sent for processing; however, some still ended up in landfill. Nectar and powder products have a much longer shelf life than fresh plums, so we can prevent any going to waste. They are also a great source of anthocyanins. We will train staff in how to track nutrient content of the Queen Garnet plum through the entire supply chain, resulting in optimal use of the fruit during processing and bottling, and a more fruitful annual profit.”

Source: University of Southern Queensland

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