Gourmet Garden

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An opportunity to capitalise on the growing importance fresh herbs were playing in the home cooking and entertainment trend led Berri Ltd to decide to launch an innovative range of ‘fresh herbs’ in a convenient to store and use format (i.e. straight from the fridge) by consumers


Take market leadership of a new market niche identified – develop and launch packaged Herbs which have their fresh flavour and colour preserved, in a chilled clear plastic tube format to make it easy for consumers to use and store at home

2nd Challenge

The product must be easily converted into an Export suitable format within 2 years of the Australian launch. The Australian market was too small to sustain the growth needed to ensure that the product was a success. The product was later rolled out to the US and Canada in 2004

The product must be ready for sale within 12 months. A pilot plant was to be constructed to first test the market acceptance


New ways were developed to grow and harvest the herbs – there were no large scale herb growers in Australia that could supply the volumes needed for the project. Queensland government had created an experimental herb growing as they were looking for a high value crop to replace cotton. A series of agronomic trials were carried out with this body and the facility was capable of producing the required volumes with up to 26 herb varieties

Harvesting methodologies was developed, defining harvest time, volumes along with stipulations on low damage

Working closely with the new growers and assisting with the development of harvesting technologies enabled the product facility to gain the maximum benefit for herb flavour – through the selection of the bets varieties – and the lack of harvest damage

New transport system to get the herbs to the production facility with the least amount of degradation possible. Early trials identified heating issues adversely affecting the herbs after harvest. Working with the growers and the transport companies, this issue was removed. Turnaround times between harvest, processing and packaging had to be minimised

Degradation due to oxidative during the processing had to be eliminated together with the identification and creation of a bulk packaging format prior to insertion into finished packaging tubes for sale. The Herb Paste was to be sold in clear Plastic tubes (allowing for 2 year shelf life) with screw tops – this had never been undertaken with large amounts of a fresh product such as this in Australia. This work required that we not only design the tube body, but additional technology had to be incorporated to ensure that the tube shoulder (where the lid screws on) would not allow oxygen to penetrate

There were numerous challenges faced to ensure the quality was maintained, freshness intact e.g. the cutting of the different herbs – each variety had special demands to deliver the final paste like consistency, plus to deliver a chunky appearance as per the marketing brief


A major new brand – “Gourmet Garden” was launched within 10 months – initially in Australia, then followed with exports to Canada, US, UK, Europe, NZ and Asia with further launches planned

Gourmet Garden has received many awards since its launch, e.g. in 2006 Gourmet Garden won the Australian Export awards agribusiness category, Queensland Smart Award – Food and Agribusiness category and numerous awards at the Queensland Export Awards

• The pilot plant was located in a disused portion of the Berri Juice plant and much of the existing infrastructure, with the entire herb pilot plant costing only $210,000. In 2006 Gourmet Garden moved into a new purpose processing facility, which gained organic certification by the Organic Food Chain in 2009”


  • Food Science
    • Intermediated foods
    • Packaging design and barrier technology
    • Fresh produce harvesting and handling
    • Enzyme chemistry
    • Microbiological stability
    • Food Oxidation chemistry
    • Shelf life studies
  • Engineering
    • Post-harvest handling
    • Chiller design
    • Fluid dynamics for paste products
    • Design and installation of bulk filling, tube filling and food service lines
    • Design of Export delivery systems
  • Food regulations
    • Meeting all relevant State, Federal and Export guidelines
    • Installation of HACCP, ISO and Coles /WW requirements