Surging global popularity of the ‘superfood’ quinoa has put the plant front and centre of new research by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation as part of the Corporations New and Emerging Industries R&D program.

Quinoa is a gluten-free carbohydrate containing all of the essential amino acids and is a great cooking ingredient.

In response to the growing interest in quinoa, RIRDC-funded research has explored opportunities and challenges related to quinoa production and marketing systems across the country to better inform growers of the crop’s potential.

New resources have been developed to share insight into the suitability of quinoa to Australian cropping systems. Yield variability and developing the supply chain are the important challenges the new industry needs to address.

The new book Quinoa – Opportunities and Challenges in Australia and associated fact sheet are designed as a reference for farmers and processors. By collating available information, farmers and processors will be able to make informed decisions in light of current industry understanding and practices.

RIRDC New and Emerging Industries program manager, Duncan Farquhar said quinoa was an exciting example of a rural industry that had potential to make a strong economic contribution to Australian agriculture.

“RIRDC’s New and Emerging Industries R&D program is focused on identifying new food types and expanding new markets,” Mr Farquhar said.

“Quinoa is a new and exciting food ingredient. Growing consumer interest in the superfood trend makes it an ideal time to pursue development of the quinoa industry in Australia.”

RIRDC has a special mandate to develop new agricultural industries and the quinoa research aims to give farmers more options in cropping systems and reduce the risks and uncertainties with the new crop.

Mr Farquhar said quinoa could be grown across a wide geographical range so it was an important opportunity for Australian farmers.

“Demand for quinoa continues to grow, with Australians consuming more quinoa as processors work out how to use the South American staple,” Mr Farquhar said.

“Establishing a successful quinoa market in Australia involves identifying the best lines to grow and best management practices, along with growing consumer interest in the grain.”

With prices for quinoa dropping, the superfood is becoming competitive with wheat and other conventional carbohydrate ingredients. The book is an important education resource to support growth in this industry.

The book Quinoa – Opportunities and Challenges in Australia and associated fact sheet is available for download via the RIRDC website at

Quinoa facts

  • Quinoa is a tasty and easy-to-use base ingredient for many dishes.
    The seed is perceived as a superfood with many health benefits; it is the only plant food that contains all of the essential amino acids and it is gluten free.
  • With prices for quinoa dropping, this healthy option is now accessible as a mainstream food ingredient.
  • The versatility and genetic diversity of quinoa makes it an appealing crop, notable characteristics include its tolerance to adverse environmental conditions, including salinity, frost and drought.
  • Quinoa is adaptable to a range of environments and its short growing season offers benefits to crop rotations.