Achacha fruit a growing global market

Awareness and demand for Achacha fruit is continuing to grow this year as chefs, foodies and the health conscious continue to explore exotic fruit and vegetables around the world.

The Achacha is originally from Bolivia – where it is known as achachairú and has been cultivated for many years in smallholdings and domestic orchards – but the leading commercial plantation for the fruit is actually in Queensland, Australia.

Achacha grower Bruce Hill has championed the fruit since 2002, when an agreement with the Bolivian Government allowed him to start growing Achacha commercially at Palm Creek Plantation, just south of Townsville in north Queensland. He says they have 120 hectares dedicated to more than 16,000 Achacha trees, as well as “about 60 mango trees and a few other tropical species”.

He says more people are discovering this unique fruit every year, with Asia a particularly strong market for the upcoming 2015/16 season.

“There has been a lot of interest from that region over the last few months. And we expect exports to UK / Europe will continue,” he says, also noting that the Australian domestic market continues to grow each year.

While the Achacha’s unique sweet and tangy flavour is one of its main drawcards, Mr Hill also says it has a lot of health benefits that appeal to people.

“It’s high in antioxidants, and very low in sugars,” he says. “There is a steady stream of customers with diabetes who buy box loads of the fruit from the plantation.”

“A recent study by the University of Western Sydney has found high levels of arginine, which benefits the cardiovascular system, in the skin – suggesting that the drink traditionally made from the skins as a hunger suppressant could have other beneficial properties as well.”

Mr Hill has also noticed more interest from the culinary world, where exotic fruits and vegetables are currently very on trend.

“More and more chefs are becoming aware of the fruit and what can be done with it so we expect that it will feature increasingly on menus in restaurants,” he says.

“To facilitate its use in sorbets, ice-cream, cocktails, desserts, drinks and so on, not only do we provide a Thermomix pulping method, but we are installing a processing facility to separate the pulp from the rest of the fruit.”

The Achacha flowers also provide a great flavour for honey, although Mr Hill says there won’t be any this season due to drought. He says dry weather has definitely affected the plantation this year – in the same way it has for many other tropical fruits grown in Australia, such as mangoes and lychees.

“We have had an exceptionally dry year, virtually no rain since March, and this no doubt has influenced the crop, which will be later than usual,” he says.

“We normally follow mangoes – this year the mango harvest has been extremely poor, and drawn out, with fruit ripening over a couple of months instead of the usual three weeks or so.”

With the fruit just starting to show colour on the trees, Mr Hill expects harvest will start in mid-January and hopes to have several hundred tonnes for both domestic sales and exports.

For more information:
Bruce Hill
Tel: +61 419 400 407

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