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Tiny tucker
Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide  by Belinda Willis
30 Jan 2018
Business Journal - Page 23 - 586 words - ID 905189817 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 716.00cm2

The mini-veg trend that started with cherry tomatoes has moved on to mini cucumbers, mini Rockit apples and baby capsicums too, They are the lunchbox revolution fighting for attention in the fruit and vegie aisles.

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IT'S the lunch box revolution inspiring fruit and vegie producers to find ever smaller and cuter crops to grow.

Long-time SA Produce Market wholesaler Wally Gallarello said the mini-veg trend started with cherry tomatoes and moved on to mini cucumbers about a decade ago.

Now the likes of mini Rockit apples, along with a baby capsicum, are all fighting for attention in the fruit and vegie aisles.

"For the kids, parents buy the little 100g to 150g punnets of tomatoes, cucumbers, and they put them in the lunch boxes for them, it's perfect," the owner of Pooraka marketbased Fruit For You said.

It's a trend driven by the well-heeled, according to Mr Gallarello, who says "it's more the Burnsides, the up-market areas" that are powering sales in a host of tiny new lines for the horticulture industry.

Horticulture giant Perfection Fresh is behind many new varieties, with Mr Gallarello saying that the national company, which has glasshouses at Two Wells, was continually researching new varieties around the world, securing patents and getting new products into the Australian market.

One of the latest is the minicap, a little capsicum creating big interest in the eastern states.

Mr Gallarello said it is so popular in Sydney that wholesalers can't secure any for South Australia.

The minicap follows the arrival of the New Zealand Rockit apple - a miniature snacking apple now grown in the Adelaide Hills and marketed through Australia's official licensee, Lenswood Apples. The first commercial quantity was released in SA, NSW and Queensland in 2015, and Lenswood Apples chair Iain Evans said that families with small children were particularly attracted to the fruit, as it often meant the entire apple was eaten.

"When mums and dads are in the supermarket they get hit by chips and lollies, and they are looking for a snacksized healthy alternative, and Rockit apples are doing it," Mr Evans said. Parents are concerned about obesity and the community is becoming concerned. I think longer term it will incentivise others to try and develop smaller, snacksized products." Earlier this year, news emerged of an Israeli company going way smaller in the cherry tomato department, with the Kedma company developing the "drop tomato", about the size of a blueberry.

The seed was originally developed in Holland, then modified to match the arid growing conditions in Israel.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, there's a new business called Kiwiberry Australia that is recognised as that state's first commercial farm growing a tiny variety of the tropical kiwifruit.

Having three children supports Food Innovation director at Adelaide University Professor Andy Lowe's opinion that this is a "promising trend" led by parents wanting to get healthier food into their family's diets.

"I think it's being led by parents wanting more healthy snacks for their kids at school and also, now if you have kids, you can get messages and be told off if you don't pack a healthy snack for them," Prof Lowe said.

"In general, it's a promising trend, because it means consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and aware that these types of snacks are a better alternative." It will incentivise others to try and develop snack-sized products IAIN EVANS

Caption Text:
MINI MEALS: Wally Gallarello with his miniature cucumbers, part of a growing trend in fruit and vegetables. Picture: CALUM ROBERTSON

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