In light of the recent food safety breaches relating to the production of imported frozen berries, Melbourne cider producer Rebello has announced that it will be launching Australia’s first commercial frozen berry line.
The majority of frozen berries currently sold in Australia are imported, marking a prime opportunity for Australian businesses to offer a high quality, locally grown alternative.
Rebello’s founders, Matt and Ruth Gallace will use berries grown at Matt’s family farm in Sunny Ridge, Victoria, as well as fruit grown on farms in Queensland to produce berries for their Matilda’s frozen berry line.
Matilda’s co-founder Ruth Gallace says the idea is one they’ve considered for some time, but costs in the past were prohibitive.
“The initial set-up in regards to equipment for production, storage and cost of local pickers weren’t conducive with a viable business, but we feel demand for local produce will change that,” she said.
“We were already seeing a major shift in consumer attitudes towards local produce as people become more and more discerning and this latest situation has propelled that motivation to buy local.”
Under the Matilda’s brand, the pair will initially produce frozen strawberries with nationwide distribution, and will move to frozen mixed berries later down the track.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, and president of the Victorian Farmers Federation, Peter Tuohey have both expressed their support for the Matilda brand.
Last month, 18 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A were epidemiologically linked to the consumption of Nanna’s Mixed Berries which were produced in China. The incident sparked renewed support for clearer country-of-origin labelling, with Barnaby Joyce calling for a framework that is unambiguous and compulsory.