New national naming system for Asian veggies to clear up consumer confusion

Help is on the way for consumers confused by the wide array of Asian vegetables on sale, with a new national naming system launched in Sydney’s Cabramatta today.

The new system, believed to be a world-first, will see standard names for 14 common Asian vegetable varieties introduced across NSW, closely followed by other states.

This is great news for keen cooks who have trouble telling their bok choy from their choy sum, or have never even heard of a wombok or kang kong.

These types of vegetables are often sold under different names at different retailers, and can be spelled in any number of ways.

The result has been confusion among growers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers. It also means many people avoid purchasing these products because they are not sure how to use them in cooking.

To overcome the problem, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has worked with Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, Harris Farm Markets, Sydney Markets and the Australian vegetable industry to develop a standardised national system for Asian vegetable names.

The new naming standard means that when you go to Coles or Woolies or Harris Farm Markets to buy your Asian vegies, buk choy will be called buk choy at all of these stores and will be spelt the same way.

The Australian Asian vegetable industry has more than doubled in production value and grower numbers since 1995.

More than half of the industry is located in NSW, with most of the product grown by about 2000 market gardeners of Asian origin on small farms of about 5-20 acres in Western Sydney.

The industry is worth an estimated $36 million each year in this state, and will continue to grow as more and more households discover the flavours and health benefits of Asian greens.

The new national naming system for Asian vegetables has been developed as part of a three-year project funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Vegetable Growers Federation (AusVeg) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL).

Agreement has been reached on 14 commonly-used Asian vegetables including Wombok, Buk Choy, Baby Buk Choy, Choy Sum, Pak Choy and Gai Lan. Use of these names will be phased in nationally over the coming weeks.