Media release: Investigating native plants for South Australian pickles

Suaeda australis_Lorraine Phelan

Suaeda Australia: one of the many native Australian saltbush which are brightly coloured and edible. Photo by Lorraine Phelan

The University of Adelaide will work with South Australian food manufacturer Spring Gully Foods to investigate potential sources of food colourings among Australian native plants.

The project has been awarded an Innovations Connections Grant of $25,000, under the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

Innovation Connections encourages and assists small and medium businesses to access knowledge, engage with researchers and foster innovation.

Dr Casey Hall, Research Associate with the Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre, is focusing on particular arid zone plants known to be edible and with strong colours, initially focusing on some of the saltbush plants found commonly in the outback.

“These salt-tolerant, desert-adapted plants grow abundantly throughout Australia,” says Dr Hall. “I will be identifying the pigment compounds and testing extracts with Spring Gully Foods to see how suitable they are, as well as investigating what ecological and environmental factors drive stronger colours.”

Established this year, the Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre is a joint centre between the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia which aims to apply ecological and Indigenous knowledge to identifying biologically active compounds from plants found in Australia, in particular from arid regions, for commercially useful products.

Centre Co-Director Professor Phil Weinstein says: “This is one of the first projects under the new Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre. This is a perfect example of how we can work with local industry, combining our knowledge and expertise, for a potentially great commercial outcome for South Australian businesses.

“As well as a possible new sources of food colourings, some of these compounds may have potential health benefits and we look forward to exploring those possibilities with Spring Gully Foods.”

Spring Gully Foods Managing Director Kevin Webb says: “The project aligns perfectly with our innovation focus.
“Working with the Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre ABCC will enable us to take advantage of the broad knowledge and research strengths that the University sector provides. Industry-research collaborations like these are what is needed to help drive the South Australian economy forward.”

Media Contact:

Dr Casey Hall, Research Associate, Australian Bioactive Compounds Centre (ABCC), University of Adelaide. Phone: +61 8 8313 7041, Mobile: +61 (0)421 927 579 714,

Professor Philip Weinstein, ABCC Co-Director, University of Adelaide. Phone: +61 8 8313 5328, Mobile: +61 (0) 466 778 089,

Kevin Webb, Managing Director, Spring Gully Foods. Phone: + +61 8 8262 7555, Mobile: +61 (0) 419811319,

Robyn Mills, Media Officer, University of Adelaide. Phone: +61 8 8313 6341, Mobile: +61 (0)410 689 084,

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