Horticulture

Unique plum variety is royally good for your health

By Ed McLeish

When Shepparton East's Joe Rullo walks into Woolworths, he proudly looks at his Queen Garnet plums.

He says they’re booming in popularity and have health benefits like no other fruit has ever contained.

A new Queensland variety of plum on the market, Mr Rullo said the Queen Garnet had five times the number of antioxidants and anthocyanins that a blueberry does.

The fruit is licensed to a company called Nutrafruit, which handles the sales and the licensing of the variety to growers.

This year’s Queen Garnet crop is the biggest Mr Rullo has ever had.

In the 2019 harvest, he sold about 400 tonnes of the fruit; this year, he’s yielded more than 1000 tonnes.

Mr Rullo said there was nothing around the world like a Queen Garnet.

“The best thing about this plum — it’s so unique,” he said.

“Blueberries are the so-called superfood, but this plum really is a superfood.

“The Queen Garnet plum is the best piece of fruit anyone can buy, and especially if they’re health-conscious.

“It’s the best piece of fruit they can buy right now, in order to get what they need.”

Mr Rullo said he was one of 20 licensees around Australia.

“Not just anyone can grow these plums, you’ve got to be a licensee of Nutrafruit.

“You’ve got to be a licensed grower, but the tree cap has been met — so there won’t be any more trees planted in Australia until further notice.”

Mr Rullo, who is a third generation farmer, is turning his farm into a Queen Garnet dynasty — four years ago, Rullo Farms began its Queen Garnet project, planting 4000 trees.

Now, his 25 000 Queen Garnet trees take up 20 of the property’s 107 ha.

The stone fruit is available for five weeks of the year, and whatever off-cuts don’t make the sale to its major retailer in Woolworths (Australia-wide), or get exported to China, get turned into bottled plum nectar.

Mr Rullo said a huge part of his farm’s success went to exporting the Queen Garnet to China.

“It’s been very challenging — there’s been a lot of ups and downs in terms of handling freight and working out with ship schedules and things like that, but our exporter we’re using exclusively into China has handled it very, very well, given the circumstances.

“We are protecting our local markets and making sure we suffice them with fruit.”

But despite heavy export appeal, Mr Rullo said he was keen to keep operations local.

“We also are looking to use local manufacturers to process the fruit — we’re going to SPC to process it.”

You can find Nutrafruit plum nectar at Woolworths and online at the Nutrafruit website.