Chocolate-flavored Capsicum and Pink Custard Apples are being sold in Supermarkets by Farmer-owned Entrepreneurs

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These agricultural businesses are equally imaginative in delivering new foods to your table as those with spectacular product launches, large corporate investors, or famous CEOs.

Levon Cookson, a plant breeder and research agronomist, has been developing a novel “chocolate capsicum” for the past five years at Bowen, north Queensland.

“They are chocolate-coloured, not chocolate-flavoured,” he stated.

Mr. Cookson, who doesn’t particularly like capsicums, decided to cultivate some that he would find appetizing.

“They’re taking the traditional capsicum and make it twice as sweet,” he explained.

“Even I am powerless to resist. I eat them while working in the pasture.I’m hoping it will encourage those who don’t eat them to give them a try.”

Similar to the early days of a software firm, there was little to nothing at first—not even a functioning website.

“The block had nothing in it. We essentially built that with very little capital because it had no buildings, power, water, or even a road,” Mr. Cookson added.

“We are gradually growing, but it takes time. We are the only proprietors and managers.We have no investors. All we do is invest in ourselves.”

While Mr. Cookson intentionally went out to create something new, Bob and Janelle Martin’s farm in the rich red volcanic soil of Queensland’s Glass House Mountains was fortunate enough to find opportunity.

A single branch of a single tree produced an out-of-season custard apple 25 years ago, but instead of pulling it down, they allowed it to grow.

Their son Robert Martin and his wife Karen were extremely appreciative of such choice.

“A small amount of good fortune,” Karen Martin said.

“We could have easily let it go and bulldozed the tree and that variety would have been lost forever.”

Rather, they have grown the PinksBlush custard apple, which ripens to a rose pink color as opposed to the two main types, which have mostly green skins.

Despite their good fortune, the Martins had to put in a lot of effort to capitalize on the new fruit through innovation.

Custard Apples Australia and the Queensland Department of Agriculture have been breeding for pink and red-skinned types for decades. After a long and challenging path filled with misfires and mutations, they are getting closer to commercial releases.

The exceptionally sweet capsicums that Mr. Cookson produced also had a lot of false starts.

“It’s a long timeframe and often plant breeders go through that process and get to the end of it and find their product isn’t marketable or it is marketable, but they don’t gain traction,” said Cookson.

His perseverance has paid off, even though he acknowledges that his lab was far from “high-tech”. This year, the extra-sweet capsicums made their way onto store shelves.

It’s really fulfilling. We feel like we’ve accomplished a lot, and it makes me happy,” Mr. Cookson remarked.