OneHarvest, an Australian fruit and vegetable supplier has licensed technology from Love Beets in the UK to pack fresh-cooked baby beetroot in a vacuum-sealed pouch.
The company received a $150k grant from the Victoria state government to build a $3.8m factory in Bairnsdale, to pack Love Beets, creating up to 30 jobs.
If demand rises it plans to build a second processing plant worth up to $2m.
Rob Munton, project manager, OneHarvest, told The West Australian, Beetroot is an iconic Australian flavour and the market has traditionally been with the beetroot in vinegar, sugar and stewed in a can.
"With Love Beets, the beetroot is taken as a completely fresh baby beetroot that's peeled, nothing added and then that's placed into a vacuum-packed pouch and cooked in the pouch," he said.
The industry has taken a number of hits in recent years from imported products, cannery closures and the exit of major processor Heinz.
Entrepreneur Dick Smith allegedly tried to save the industry by buying a canned crop of beetroot in 2012, but it failed.
The Love Beet technology was founded in England by husband and wife team Guy and Katherine Shropshire who now live in the US.
Munton added while Love Beets had reservations about entering the Australian market, he believes the company’s product offering which includes flavoured beetroot packs, will appeal to a younger market.
He claims the firm is ‘coming in with a completely different product that’s not soft and mushy and been sitting in a can for 12 months'.
"We don't see that we are competing at all with the canned beetroot," he said.
According to Helen Warren, marketing manager, Love Beets, Australians love beetroot, and the value of the canned market is approximately $43m per year.
“However the fresh beetroot market is still a relatively small market,” she said.
“Our research shows people love the taste of fresh beetroot and they want to cook with it, inspired by the recipes they are seeing in food magazines, and the dishes they are seeing in cafes, restaurants and on cooking shows. But they don’t know how to prepare or cook it; find it messy and just too hard.”
Love Beets will be stocked in supermarkets in Victoria mid-2014.