Home' Grower : March 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- March 2012
Bean there, doing that,
WHEN it came to diversifying
away from stonefruit,
Michael and Jina Tripodi
opted for beans. And they have have
launched their borlotti Edible Gems
range onto the retail market in the
first of what promises to be several
new lines during the next few years.
There is not a lot of correlation
between stonefruit production
and bean growing, but an attitude
of innovation drove the Tripodis
to branch out.
"Several years ago, we realised it
was getting harder and harder to
get a premium for stonefr uit
because these days it is such a com-
modity product," Michael said.
"We agreed it was time to start
looking for something new to add
to the business.
"We had grown test patches of
beans over the years and always
thought it was a product we might
be able to do something with.
"However, most beans are har-
vested by hand and having to
manage another high- labour crop
held us back from taking the idea
In 2011, they decided to really
focus on the bean idea and did a lot
of research on global bean growing.
"We discovered that in Europe,
beans can be har vested by
machine and Italy had pack hous-
es set up that enabled the bean to
be har vested, shelled and packed,
while never being touched by a
human hand," Michael said.
"The only difference in Europe is
that beans are packed and prepared
for the canned or frozen market,
and not for the fresh market."
The intrigue of the European sce-
nario got the better of them, and
they took a trip to see it firsthand.
From that journey, they commit-
ted to an enterprise different to
anywhere in the world.
"We were going to use the best
of the European har vesting and
packing technology, but apply the
technology to fresh beans,"
Michael and Jina have farmed
and been in the produce business
all their lives.
Jina's father was a large market
gardener at Swan Hill, and also an
early borlotti bean grower.
Her earlier years were spent
working on the farm and at the
family's retail fruit shop, while
Michael grew up on a citr us and
grape business, something he car-
ried over onto his own farm after
the two were married.
After a stint in the retail fr uit
trade in Melbourne, the desire to
raise their family in a rural setting
saw them move back to Lake Boga
where they have a stonefr uit oper-
ation covering about 121 hectares,
plus their 40ha of borlotti beans.
Borolotti are mostly available
canned or dried, but Michael says
the taste of the freshly shelled
bean is vastly different to its
He says the fresh beans texture,
when simmered, is meaty but it
also "melts in your mouth".
"The flavour is nutty, creamy and
almost buttery. It is hard to describe
it with words," Michael said.
The venture goes beyond just
introducing a new product to a
shop shelf. The Tripodis see it as
creating an entirely new category
of fresh produce and believe fresh
shelled beans and peas are a trend
just waiting to happen.
Future plans include the marketing
of a freshly shelled pea, in May, while
next year they intend to expand the
fresh shelled range to include fava
(broad) beans, chick peas, red kid-
ney beans, flageolet beans and possi-
bly one to two more.
"The long-term goal is to have
an offer than includes 15-20 dif-
ferent types of freshly shelled
beans and peas," Michael said.
The borlotti beans are grown in
the fresh, rich Lake Boga soil and
not as a rotational crop.
The har vesting equipment shells
the beans in the paddock, allow-
ing the plants and pods to be recy-
cled back in as green mulch.
Water is applied through under-
ground irrigation tape. The
farm's GPS-equipped tractors
mean the irrigation will ser ve
For the Tripodis, this new prod-
uct deser ved a new brand.
"Rather than just brand the bor-
lotti beans in our traditional
Redlands brand, we felt we needed a
brand and a look that would not
only ser ve the borlotti beans, but
our entire range as we expand,"
"We hired a produce marketing
expert to work with us and the
Edible Gems brand was born.
"Given one of our goals is to drive
new consumers to the fresh bean
category, we also worked hard to
get a look that was eye-catching
and would appeal to foodies and
health-conscious consumers, and
those who have a cultural history
with the borlotti bean.
We hired a produce
marketing expert to
work with us and
the Edible Gems
brand was born
INNOVATION, research and a European holiday came together for a
Victorian family when they launched their own range of fresh, shelled
beans. ASHLEY WALMSLEY reports.
Edible Gems in three states
Beans harvested by machine
Technology applied to fresh
"Our on-pack communication
focuses on educating and inspiring
consumers to try borlotti beans.
"This product ticks huge boxes
in terms of being food safe. It is
not touched by human hands
until the shopper opens the pack
to cook. In today's 'food scare a
week' culture, having a really safe
food is important to our retail
partners and consumers.
"Beans are healthy, which also
puts them on trend. They are a real
food, high in protein, folate, iron
and fibre -- and they are delicious.
"This is what today's consumer
wants in an increasingly health-
conscious society. How can you
go too far wrong with a product
range with all those attributes?"
While the exact figures remain
undisclosed, the business has
taken a substantial leap of faith on
its new product.
"Yes, what we are doing is risky.
It is not easy to sink a large sum
of money in a new product idea,"
"It would have been much easi-
er to have held onto the dollars
and continued to ride out the
summer fruit rollercoaster. But
that's not us."
Edible Gems arrived on retail
shelves in mid-February 20 in
Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
"For 2012, we will be offering
Edible Gems exclusively to inde-
pendent greengrocers and special-
ty supermarkets because we
believe their retail format is the
ideal fit initially for the product."
-- Courtesy Good Fruit & Vegetables
Michael and Jina Tripodi, Redland Farms, Lake Boga, with a box of their
Edible Gems, freshly shelled and packed borlotti beans.
Nutty taste of
THE borlotti bean is a shell bean.
The beans grow within the
beautifully coloured, long pods and
inside the pod are between four to
six burgundy and cream coloured
To get to the nutty, creamy bean,
the borlotti shell or pod needs to be
removed, leaving the beautiful
borlotti bean as the part to eat and
Typically, borlotti bean shelling
was done by hand, and was a
tradition for many families in the
late summer and autumn.
The borlotti pod itself is not
While they resemble fancy
jellybeans, borlotti beans have a
nutty, creamy flavour.
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