Jen No Comments

FAN Members shortlisted for elite dairy awards

They came, they saw, and they’ve tasted over 400 of Australia’s best dairy products, and now, the judges of the prestigious Australian Grand Dairy Awards have announced the following FAN Members as finalists:

  • Woombye Cheese Company for their Woombye Blackall Gold Washed Rind (Washed Rind category)
  • Maleny Dairies for their Farmers Choice Guernsey Non-Homogenised Full Cream Milk (Milk category)

The producers are celebrating earning a place in the top three of the best washed rind, and milks in Australia. They are one of 54 producers of cheese, ice cream, milk, yoghurt, gelato and more who have made it through as finalists in the Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

Fellow QLD producer The Natural Yoghurt Company have also been shortlisted for their George’s Authentic Greek Yoghurt Apple & Cinnamon (Flavoured Yoghurts category)

Now in their 19th year, the Australian Grand Dairy Awards are the grand final of dairy awards – recognising quality, excellence and the distinguished skills of local Australian producers who create the highest quality products in the country. Being named a finalist with the chance to take home the Champion title in these prestigious Awards is the highest possible accolade for a dairy producer.

Over two days, over 400 gold medal winning Australian products were put through a rigorous test by a panel of 24 judges. Renowned dairy educators Russell Smith and Mark Livermore led a panel of technical experts, chefs, retailers and flavour specialists to assess presentation, texture, flavour and aroma to shortlist the top three in each class crowning them the 2018 finalists.

From flavoured yoghurt, to mouth-watering ice-creams, delectable chocolate milks and tongue-tingling cheddars, the 2018 finalist list features producers big and small from every corner of the country.

“We are excited to announce the stellar line up of 2018 finalists. The awards celebrate quality and excellence in delicious dairy produce, but we also want to encourage Australian’s to take a moment to recognise the skills and dedication of the many people who craft these products,” says Amanda Menegazzo, convener of the Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

“It’s incredible to think that the array of finalists – from spicy blue cheese to tangy passionfruit yoghurt and sweet fig and mascarpone gelato – all start with one amazing ingredient, quality Australian milk. These awards would not exist without the contribution of the passionate Australian dairy farmers who produce it.”

While the experts have already had their say, there is one award they can’t determine, the country’s favourite dairy product, the 2018 People’s Choice Award.  Dairy lovers from around the country are encouraged to throw their support behind their favourite finalist and cast their vote at What’s more, simply by voting, consumers go into the draw to win a year’s supply of award winning cheese!

The winning producer of the Australian Grand Dairy Awards People’s Choice Award, as well as the top product in each dairy and cheese category will be revealed in February, along with an overall dairy and cheese Grand Champion.   

About the Australian Grand Dairy Awards

The Australian Grand Dairy Awards recognise and reward excellence and quality in Australian dairy produce, paying tribute to the achievements of the highly-skilled specialists who develop and make these products. Created in 1999, the Australian Grand Dairy Awards are Australia’s most prestigious national dairy awards and the highest accolade for Australian dairy producers.

Visit for more information

About Woombye Cheese Company

Woombye Cheese Company believes the Sunshine Coast hinterland is the perfect place to make cheese, and who are we to disagree? With panoramic views of undulating green hills, creeks and bushland, it’s a lush setting. Originally founded by Graeme and Karen Paynter in 2013, Woombye Cheese Company is still family owned and has added a range of Australian favourites to its repertoire, including camembert, brie and feta.

About Maleny Dairies

Maleny Dairies has been home to Guernsey cows since the farm began operating in 1948. The dairy is proud of its commitment to caring for their animals and the land they live on, and believe the cows’ happiness is crucial to creating the best quality, delicious Australian milk.

About The Natural Yoghurt Company

The Natural Yoghurt Company is Queensland owned and made. The company prides itself on the locally produced milk it uses across its product range, which results in fresh and wholesome food which hasn’t travelled thousands of kilometres from farm to fridge.

Jen No Comments

ANZ releases “Opportunity Asia” Report 2017

ANZ has recently released its ‘Opportunity Asia Report for 2017’ that has a focus on food. This is the third consecutive year that ANZ has engaged EY Sweeney to survey 1,000 business decision-makers to capture their sentiments and experiences to create a roadmap for doing business in Asia.

The demand for quality Australian products and services from our Asian neighbours has never been greater, with the fastest growing region in the world demonstrating a growing appetite for Australian exports. China is clearly leading this trend, with an estimated 500 million people entering the middle class over the next decade. But the demand for high quality goods extends beyond China, with emerging Asian markets also demanding high quality goods – which Australia can provide.

The insights and benefits quoted in this report reflect business owners from small to medium enterprises (SMEs) right through to large corporates, covering the views of businesses with well-established Asian operations as well as those yet to start their international expansion.

The findings are very encouraging for Australian businesses considering Asian markets and the benefits for the broader Australian economy will be significant. This year’s report examines the exciting upside potential for local jobs growth required by the Australian business sector acting on global aspirations.

The report features case studies showcasing Australian businesses at various stages of international expansion. There is nothing better than hearing directly from business leaders about their experiences assessing, planning and executing into new international markets.

In recognition of the challenges associated with being successful in Asian markets, earlier this year ANZ developed Be Trade Ready ( in collaboration with the Export Council of Australia, to help Australian businesses assess and plan for their international expansion.


If anyone would like to know more about ‘Be Trade Ready’ please contact:

Michael Clauson | ANZ | Senior Relationship Manager | Business Banking
8 Innovation Parkway, Birtinya QLD 4575, Australia
Phone: +61 7 5346 1982 | Mobile: +61 411 023 533| Fax: +61 7 5346 1998|

Jen No Comments

PinkBlush – A new variety of custard apple needs your feedback!

In the picturesque Sunshine Coast region, a welcomed discovery at Robert and Karen Martin’s orchard at Glass House Mountains revealed the conception of a new variety of Custard Apple.

This naturally occurring wonder saw “PinksBlush” nurture and develop as an individual branch on a different variety of custard apple tree on the Martin’s orchard and is now secured under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Scheme.

Most excitedly, this new variety exhibits some unique points of difference.  Other custard apple varieties are generally green in colour.  “PinksBlush” however, showcases a rich tapestry of pastel colours on the shoulder of the skin that resembles a blush-like appearance.   But more significantly, the fruit harvest period for “PinksBlush” occurs from September to December, effectively extending the Australian Custard Apple season by approximately 4 months.

Recently, Karen was awarded a place in the Young Food Innovators program. Young Food Innovators is a 12-month intensive, accelerated program to support and build the capacity of people from the red meat, horticulture and pork primary producer sectors.

This program is supported by Hort Innovation Australia and MLA Donor Company, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

As part of this program, Karen will complete her major project focussing on branding and integrated marketing strategies for “PinksBlush”.   Through design led thinking, Karen will test out ideas and bring her new product to life.

Market and consumer insights will be critical to understand just what consumers think of her new product, but Karen needs your help.  If you are interested in testing “PinksBlush” and offering your feedback, please contact Karen on 0456 789 380 for further information.


Jen No Comments

Future of Farming Workshop attracts 60 local farmers

On Thursday 5th October, the Food & Agribusiness Network (FAN), Gympie Regional Council, and Sustainable Soil Solutions held the first in what is set to be a series of workshops for farmers in the Greater Sunshine Coast region.

Special thanks to all our speakers (listed below), Matt Golinski for his delicious cooking demo, and Kate Rose from Baupal Park Macadamia Farm for hosting the event. The workshop was followed by a networking BBQ that provided a great opportunity for our local farmers to connect, and welcome to our 7 new FAN members who signed up on the day!

Topics that were covered included the following:

Chemical Free Farming and the “Sum of all Parts” 
Guest Speaker #1: Andrew McLennan, Consulting Biological AgronomistChemical Free Farmers Association
Removing synthetic inputs from production systems is only one component of the transition towards sustainable farming. Attendees will learn about the intricate web of holistic farming, and just how important it is to identify and understand the “sum of all parts” in being successful at producing chemical free nutrient dense food from a sustainable source.

Drones & Farming
Guest speaker #2: Alun Morgan, Engineer & Drone Pilot, Acre Insight
An introduction into Aerial photography and mapping and how it can assist greatly in the management of farms. By combining aerial data with existing knowledge of the data from drones can be a fantastic tool for planning, design and management, as well as identifying or helping to solve existing problems.

The Spatial Hub
Guest speaker #3: Phillip Tickle, The Spatial Hub
Technology is driving enormous changes across agriculture. The Spatial Hub’s world leading technology is providing Australia’s grazing industry with new opportunities to increase sustainable production. In just 30 seconds a grazier can analyse 30 years of satellite data over every paddock, providing new insights into short and long-term land condition and productivity.

Stay tuned for more Farming Workshops to be held in 2018.

Jen No Comments

Could your business benefit from a nutritionist?

New initiative for FAN Members! The University of the Sunshine Coast is sending nutrition students to FAN in 2018. As part of their work placement program, third year bachelor of nutrition students may be able to assist your business with:

  • Product and recipe development
  • Nutritional analysis of your products
  • Compliance with food labelling law (FSANZ)
  • Provide nutrition information panels for your products
  • Marketing ideas
  • Research (for example, students could develop a portfolio of the nutritional benefits of your product/the ingredients of your product)
  • Menu design
  • Needs analysis (Are people in the community needing your product, in terms of nutrition? If so, who are they, where are they?)

If your business has a nutrition focus, and could benefit from input from a student nutritionist, you are invited to apply for the position of ‘USC Placement Partner.’ In this role you will need to provide a suitable project for the student to work on, while supervising the student. Students are required to do 75 hours of work placement within a Semester.

It is hoped that the student nutritionist will be able to provide your business with nutrition-specific knowledge and skills that may add value to your business, while the students gain a valuable workplace experience within the food industry from you.

Successful applicants will be chosen by the USC Nutrition Department in consultation with FAN, and will be based on the ability of the business to provide a unique learning experience for the students which enables the student to meet their required competencies for graduation.

If you’d like to apply, please complete a short survey here or for more information contact Emma Greenhatch at [email protected]

Jen No Comments

Showcasing the Sunshine Coast at Fine Food Australia

From the 11-14th September, 13 Sunshine Coast businesses including 12 FAN members were represented at the “Flavours of the Sunshine Coast” stand at Australia’s largest food industry trade show – Fine Food. Held at the ICC in Sydney, the opportunity was made possible through a partnership between Sunshine Coast Council and FAN.

One month on we wanted to provide a wrap report to our network and show just how beneficial working together and promoting the Sunshine Coast as a food region can be…. And it’s just the beginning!

Fast Facts:

  • Collectively more than 300 leads were generated that businesses will be following up
  • 3 businesses had immediate orders
  • Estimated +400k revenue in new sales over the next 24 months
  • New collaborations resulted between many of the businesses on the stand including It’s Sweet As now making a new coffeelicious bite using Montville Coffee
  • “The friendliest stand at the show!” – as quoted by one international buyer

But don’t just take it from us…. Here is what one of the exhibitors had to say! “Exhibiting at Fine Food Australia was a fantastic experience for our business. We made contact with some great potential customers and even received some orders while we were exhibiting. It is definitely something we would like to be a part of again. I loved that there were nine totally different Sunshine Coast businesses exhibiting that all supported each other so well.” – Kimberly Durant, Gourmet Fudge Supplies.

FAN Members that took part in this year’s Fine Food Australia included Kenilworth Country Foods, KOKOPOD Chocolate, Walter’s Artisan Produce, QCamel, Montville Coffee, Gourmet Fudge Supplies, Belladotti – Fine Foods Inspired, COYO, The Country Chef Bakery Co., Pomodoras on Obi, It’s Sweet As, and SunLife Superfoods.

Jen No Comments

FAN partners with the Innovation Centre to deliver Grow Coastal in 2018

After a successful inaugural program in 2017, the Innovation Sunshine Coast & FAN are excited to announce that applications for the 2018 program are opening soon. FAN has been appointed by the Innovation Centre to be the Program Manager for the 2018 Grow Coastal Program and is excited to be part of this excellent program to drive growth of food & agribusiness in the region.

Grow Coastal provides 12 of the best food and beverage businesses in the region with the opportunity to take part in Sunshine Coast’s first food accelerator program. Budding entrepreneurs can now apply to become one of only 12 businesses to access over $10,000 in value via the catalytic three-month accelerator program, designed specifically for producers looking to scale fast, bring their vision to life and deliver new food and beverage innovations to the market.

FAN Chair Jacqui Wilson-Smith proudly supports the initiative and FAN’s involvement to help deliver this world class program “the Grow Coastal program will increase the pipeline of food innovation and leverages off the strength our branding, local provenance and strong local capacity.”

In 2018, Grow Coastal will be delivered directly by Mark Paddenburg, CEO of the Innovation Centre and Food & Agribusiness Network Director, Jacqui Price.

Visit the Grow Coastal Website for more information.

Jen No Comments

Flavours of the Sunshine Coast now on show at Fine Food Australia

Testament to the growth and innovation in Sunshine Coast’s food industry, the region is currently being showcased on a “Favours of the Sunshine Coast” stand for the first time at Fine Food Australia in Sydney this week from the 11-14th September.

The initiative is one of a number that the Sunshine Coast Council and Food & Agribusiness Network (FAN) are partnering on to drive new growth opportunities in the region’s food and agribusiness industry.

The Sunshine Coast is a foodie haven that is rich in agricultural history, with a sub-tropical climate, sun-drenched days, reliable rainfall, rich soils and clean air with a thriving value add processing industry.

Sunshine Coast exhibitors at Fine Food Australia will showcase a range of world class, innovative products including:

  • Gourmet Garden: Australia’s most visible retail product in the world has an innovative range of herb pastes, lightly dried herbs, spices and seasonings.
  • QCamel: Who knew that camel milk was not only a viable product, but nature’s healthiest milk AND produced on the Sunshine Coast? QCamel is committed to organic, ethical and sustainable farming practices.
  • COYO®: Their organic award winning coconut milk yoghurt and ice creams are not only renowned for their unbeatable quality, taste and health benefits, but are a favourite product of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and have been featured heavily across the UK media.
  • The Country Chef Bakery Co: Not only do they use eight million Queensland bananas each year in their famous Banana Bread, they’ve just opened the largest pavlova factory in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Montville Coffee: A multi award-winning Fairtrade Organic coffee roaster with a range of whole bean and ground coffee launching a hand-crafted Monty Organic Cold Brew Concentrate. Enjoy their memorable coffee experiences and contribute to using businesses as a force for good.
  • Freeze Dry Industries: Patented world class commercial freeze drying technology, adding value to otherwise perishable foods such as fruit, ice cream, cheese and even camel milk.

Sunshine Coast Council Economic Development and Innovation Portfolio Cr Steve Robinson said Fine Food Australia provided an incredible opportunity to showcase some of the region’s finest foods on a national stage.

“The food and agribusiness industry on the Sunshine Coast continues to grow. It is now worth $670 million and features more than 900 companies, including some of Australia’s leading food innovators and exporters,” Cr Robinson said.

“Our support to these companies and partnership with FAN is also vital to support our export and employment growth and we look forward to showing the rest of Australia what’s here and our supportive business environment at Fine Food Australia.

“So, while you may be tempted by the fruits of another region’s produce while visiting Fine Food Australia, follow your nose and head directly to the Sunshine Coast’s exhibitors who will delight you with their exceptional flair for exquisite fayre.”

Food & Agribusiness Network (FAN) general manager Emma Greenhatch said the Sunshine Coast has become a thriving food production and processing location, with a strong culture of collaboration and innovation.

“The Sunshine Coast is an ideal location to honour the harvest and join the flavour destination revolution,” Emma said.

“The local food and agribusiness industry on the Sunshine Coast could very well be Australia’s best kept secret, with world class naturally refreshing produce created by talented local artisans and innovators.”

For more information about Fine Food Australia visit

Jen No Comments

Spotlight on Sunshine Coast at Regional Flavours

Over 100,000 people attended Regional Flavours in Brisbane on the 15-16 July with foodies from all over Australia wanting a bite of Sunshine Coast Produce. FAN, in collaboration with Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast hosted a regional hub – “Flavours of the Sunshine Coast”, and attendees were drawn in by the food from our region with genuine excitement about the location it was from.

FAN General Manager Emma Greenhatch attended the event, and returned with success stories for each of our 10 FAN members who showcased their produce at the event. “They all had a phenomenal couple of days, and it was an opportunity for them to put their products in front of consumers from Brisbane and interstate. Getting these companies out of the region to showcase what they have got to national and international markets is really key and what we’re driving hard on. The exposure promotes the depth and diversity of businesses we’ve got, and will attract others to set up in the region”.

Highlights from our FAN members at Regional Flavours;

  • Woombye Cheese had their best 2 days of trading ever and sold out both days – moving more than 1,500 pieces of cheese.
  • Ten Acres sold 350 loaves of sourdough bread, and their marmalade was also a huge hit.
  • QCamel sold out of their milk with 3,000 people who have never tried Camel milk sampling their product and becoming potential new customers!
  • Kokopod’s most popular chocolate was the honeycomb, also selling out!
  • Maleny Black Angus Beef used 4,000 toothpicks, sampling their sausages and beef burgers
  • The Fresh Chai Co. sold more than 1,000 packets of chai and had 1,000 100% satisfied customers

Check out some great images from the event below.

Jen No Comments

Connecting with our Farmers & Our Food; How to run a successful farm gate

Increasingly millennials and savvy consumers are speaking with their feet and wanting to know where their food comes from, and how it is grown and raised. They want to hear the story and the provenance! For primary producers, this provides an opportunity to hop on the band wagon and provide a unique and memorable experience for foodies looking to connect with the source.

Sally Hookey from Hinterland Feijoas is putting her local Sunshine Coast farm on the food tourist map and generating extra income in the process. Tea, coffee and chocolate feijoa cake are always on the menu at the farm’s cute little retro caravan, ‘Myrtle’ and you can purchase other gourmet feijoa products from her artisan farm gift shop. The fresh, luscious tree-ripened, certified-organic fruit is a sell out every season!

“Lots of people visit the farm every week and are interested in our lifestyle. People are wanting to connect with where their food comes from, and appreciate the opportunity to see a working farm. Our farm gate gives us a year-round offering, minimizing the risk of seasonality and diversifying our product range. We are happy to share our learnings on how farmers can look at alternative ways to market and additional opportunities for sales” – Sally Hookey

At this workshop Sally and her husband, Peter Heineger will share their journey including the challenges and rewards. FAN Director and commercial & corporate lawyer, Tony Sowden will also be providing information about the regulations and legal requirements for farm gate enterprises.

Friday 14 July
Workshop; 9:30 – 11:15am | Farm Tour; 11:15am
Hinterland Feijoas
131 Browns Road
Belli Park, QLD 4562

Tickets are available for FAN members & non-members here