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Southern choice R&D project a tasty delight with its potato bake.

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15 March 2001   


A TASTY DELIGHT WITH ITS POTATO BAKE  The Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, today presented a certificate of achievement to the Mount Gambier agribusiness company Souther n Choice for successfully completing its Commonwealth-funded Microbake™ research and development project.

“When successfully commercialised, the Microbake™ project will provide consumers with a microwave-baked potato that is as golden brown and crispy-skinned as a potato baked in a convection oven,” Senator Minchin said.

Southern Choice was formed to establish a fully integrated potato agribusiness based on the predicted demand for potatoes, particularly in the Asian fresh-food market. Worldwide, the potato industry is worth more than $200 billion per year.

The project was funded with a $161,320 R&D Start grant through the Commonwealth's business unit, AusIndustry.

After initially producing seed potato tubers, the company decided to focus its research on ready-to-eat options for potatoes for the fast food industry.

Senator Minchin said Southern Choice was well placed to capture a significant share of this market with its quality products.

"The company holds the rights to a Microbake cooking process for vegetables, a special purpose shipping container for transportation of vegetables and various production licences and protocols.

"The huge population base in Asia, combined with increasing affluence, changing eating habits and diversifying cultural boundaries, will see the demand for fresh vegetable products increase dramatically over the next decade," Senator Minchin said.

"It takes up to 30 minutes to roast a potato to golden brown perfection in a convection oven. Southern Choice is close to perfecting a patented browning solution and cooking container to achieve a similar result using a microwave oven."

Senator Minchin said the process would open up the development of a new range of products for the rapidly expanding home meal replacement market which is currently growing at more than 25 per cent a year.

"With the project now in its final stages of development, commercialisation of the Microbake™ potato has direct implications for the fast food and food service trades. The addition of aromatic flavours to the browning solution will provide further opportunities for exploiting these markets," Senator Minchin said.

Senator Minchin said Southern Choice was one of a number of innovative South Australian companies which have demonstrated the State's strong R&D focus.

"The Commonwealth Government has funded 18 innovative projects worth almost $15.7 million in South Australia under AusIndustry's R&D Start Program in the first six months of this financial year.

"The recent release by the Prime Minister of the Innovation Action Plan, Backing Australia's Ability, will provide a further $2.9 billion of Commonwealth investment in Australia's research abilities and skills. It underscores the Government's commitment to the future growth of an innovative Australian economy," Senator Minchin said.

Information on R&D Start and other AusIndustry programs can be obtained by telephoning AusIndustry on the Business Hotline 13 28 46 or viewing the AusIndustry website at .

Contact:  Carolyn Coleman, Senator Minchin's Office 08 8237 7190, 0409 438 680

    Warren Ludski, AusIndustry 02 6213 7325

CMR 116-01

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