Food and beverage
Tasmania has consolidated its reputation over recent decades as Australia’s gourmet island. Outstanding seafood, a range of more than 100 specialty cheeses, world-famous honey, including organic leatherwood honey from the rainforest, excellent meat and crisp, fresh vegetables and tasty fruit attract buyers and fastidious consumers to the islands in the Southern Ocean. Food has become a key motivator in the State’s tourism industry and the availability of quality produce has attracted a constellation of outstanding chefs. James Stewart wrote in Britain’s The Independent in 2016: ‘Hobart is a reminder that restaurants don’t have to be about food concepts or famous chefs. I leave, rethinking how I usually eat. You can’t ask more of a backwater than that.’ A leading Sydney chef, Monty Koludrovic, said: ‘There is a never-ending supply of inspiration and new ground in Tasmanian food produce – it’s an exciting food community.’
Global negatives have added to the local impetus. Concerns about food safety in an increasingly polluted world have focused attention on Tasmania’s famously clean air, ample supplies of clean water and freedom from many of the outside world’s pests and diseases. Tasmanian farmers have no need to use certain chemicals that are routinely applied to food crops in other regions. Because food is GM-free and artificial hormones and antibiotics are not used to promote livestock growth, it is as safe as it is delicious.
Tasmania’s fertile soils, geographical situation, temperate climate and reliable rainfall position it ideally to supply quality food to the northern hemisphere. When it is winter in the north, it is summer in Tasmania and out-of-season produce is being harvested and prepared for export. Potatoes, carrots, peas and beans are staple crops in the rich brown soil of the north-west, where 25 per cent of Australia’s export vegetables are grown. However, Tasmanian farmers are versatile and innovative. When Japanese customers wanted buckwheat and kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) out of season, Tasmanians delivered. Black truffles were grown with the French in mind but have found admirers in other markets. Similarly, walnuts were cultivated for the German market but soon secured buyers elsewhere as well. Wasabi is a boutique Tasmanian crop; and locals have found innovative uses for this traditional Japanese condiment.
Lush pastures and ample supplies of good water are competitive advantages in the dairy industry. Tasmania’s dairies supply excellent milk that is the raw material for a stunning array of cheeses and other products. Tasmanian cheeses regularly collect national and international awards. Pasture-raised – and in some cases grain-finished beef – including Japanese oxen (known as wagyu if raised in Japan) is another export success story.
Aromatic, full-flavoured leatherwood honey gathered in temperate rainforests has had a world-wide following for decades. Now a major producer has achieved organic certification.
The range of products is constantly diversifying. Japanese cherries, Fuji apples, coloured capsicums, olives, myrtus berries, daikon, wasabi, quinoa and saffron are all available from innovative island agriculturalists. Gourmet delis and butchers supply succulent lamb, wallaby, venison and an array of award-winning sausages.
Food grown in Tasmania is GM-free. The entire State has a moratorium on any use of gene technology in the commercial production of food.
- Hormonal growth promotants and antibiotics are banned in cattle;
- Tasmania is free from many of the major pests and diseases, such as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease, rabies and rinderpest;
- Tasmania is the only State in Australia free from potato cyst nematode and tobacco blue mould;
- Chemical usage is low due to the absence of major pests and diseases; and
- Tasmania has some of the world’s most stringent quarantine policies and its biosecurity has been described as ‘unique’.
Delicate varietal table wines, world-class whiskies, ciders, beers and some of the world’s purest water are the basis of a thriving beverage sector. In 2013 a Tasmanian chardonnay was rated the best wine in its class in the world. A year later a Tasmanian single-malt whisky was judged the best single-malt in the world. These achievements – both at respected international events in London – reflect the quality of the ingredients and the passion of the people in beverage production in Tasmania.
As well as award-winning chardonnays, Tasmania boasts the finest sparkling wine in the southern hemisphere. It is Australia’s oldest productive wine region and its pinot noir is unrivalled nationally. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are the most widely planted white varieties. The delicate flavours and varietal character of its table wines have enabled the industry to expand steadily in recent decades. There were 230 vineyards operating in 2016 with a total bearing area of 1,800ha. Tasmania’s largest vintage was recorded in 2013 with 11,392 tonnes.
Prices paid by interstate wine makers for Tasmania’s cool-climate grapes, particularly pinot noir and chardonnay for use in sparkling wine, are the highest in the nation. Local growers sell all their production, even in times of national grape gluts. It is no surprise that the industry has attracted investment from other parts of Australia and overseas.
For more detail on Tasmania’s production and sales performance review Wine Tasmania’s infographic.
To assist you to plan your visit to Tasmania’s 90-strong selection of cellar door outlets and for facts and figures on the Tasmanian wine sector visit Wine Tasmania’s website.
The world of whisky was rocked in 2014 when a Tasmanian single-malt was judged the best whisky in the world at the World Whisky Awards in London. Five Tasmanian distilleries have now won Liquid Gold status in the Whisky Bible. Tasmanians have exported whisky to Scotland; have shown Scots how to establish boutique distilleries in Scotland and have won many international accolades. The industry, founded in 1993, is based on boutique, hands-on distilling, high-grade malting barley, excellent water and local peat.
Tasmanian distillers also produce gin, rum, liqueurs and a vodka that has won a best in show award in the United States.
Once defined by its apple exports, Tasmania is now producing ciders of excellent quality, including organic ciders and pear ciders. Cascade is a large-scale producer, while many boutique operations have emerged in recent years. Tasmanians also produce quality fruit cordials, juices, soft drinks and mixers.
World-class hops, excellent local barley and pure water have encouraged Tasmanians to practice and constantly improve the art of brewing beer. Local brewers are well positioned in the national premium beer market and one Tasmanian product can claim to be the most-awarded beer in Australian brewing history. Aside from two major breweries, Cascade in Hobart, and J. Boag & Son in Launceston, there are many boutique producers and a dazzling range of beers.
Geography delivers wonderful water to Tasmania. Rain clouds roll constantly from the west across an oceanic zone known as the Roaring Forties, which lies safely south of polluting land masses. When the clouds meet Tasmania’s western mountains they shed water of incredible purity which is the raw material for a thriving rainwater and mineral water industry. Cloud Juice from King Island is shipped to Europe, while other businesses supply national and international markets.
Facts and figures
- Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask Whisky was judged the world’s best single malt at the World Whisky Awards in London in 2013.
- Tasmania’s Josef Chromy 2011 Chardonnay was judged the best chardonnay from around the world at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards in London in 2013.
- Tasmanian wine grapes achieve an average price of $2,575 compared to a national average price of $441.
- Premium varieties include pinot noir and chardonnay (paving the way for some of the most impressive sparkling wines produced outside Champagne), and riesling sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, pinot meunier and petit verdot.
- James Boag & Son operates the Boag’s Centre for Beer Lovers in William Street, Launceston. Visitors can sample an extensive range, including Boag’s Draught; James Boag’s Premium Light; Boag’s St George; and Boag’s Strongarm.
- Since its inception in 1969, the Hartz group has grown to be the leading premium non-alcoholic beverage manufacturer and distributor in Tasmania. Brands, including Orchard Fresh and Hartz Tasmanian Mineral Water, are sold interstate and overseas.
- 100 per cent of Tasmania’s wine sells for more than $15 a bottle, a price achieved by only 7 per cent of the nation’s wine production.
- The Moorilla Estate winery in Hobart’s suburbs, a pioneer of the modern industry in Tasmania, has won new business through a range of unpasteurised beers produced in its Moo Brew micro-brewery.