For most of the season, the quinoa crops on Highbury grower Ashley Wiese’s property sport a similar shade of green to any other. But for two weeks every year, just before summer, they put on a spectacular show as they bloom and go to seed. And this year’s eruption of colour signals a turning point in the superfood’s global market, which has been in oversupply since prices for the grain surged about five years ago. It could be the first harvest unencumbered by the deluge, with demand creeping up once again for the ancient grain with South American origins. “As quinoa is a niche crop, it is easily oversupplied, so that drove the price down quite dramatically. Because quinoa stores so well, the oversupply stayed in the market for quite a few years. We’re just coming out of that now and it’s meant that everybody’s had to readjust their expectations on pricing and try to come up with supply chains that are more competitive.” A little over a decade ago, Mr Wiese — who is also an accountant — was chatting with Dumbleyung farmer Megan Gooding and Narrogin agronomist Garren Knell when the idea to grow white quinoa was born. The trio, operating under the Three Farmers brand, have been growing quinoa in the Great Southern ever since, combining their knowledge to forge a path forward for the gluten-free grain. “The evolution of quinoa in WA and Australia is quite young, it’s only a few years old, so we’ve been doing agronomy and variety trials to try and find varieties that give us a bit of an edge.” “We’ve got varieties from Asia and Europe which look really promising, but until we harvest them, won’t know the yields.” Growing demand from the Asian market — particularly China — as well as the global movement embracing plant-based protein sources is showing promise, according to Mr Wiese. But home is where the heart — and competitive edge — is. Signing on with Coles in 2016, local demand for WA-grown quinoa has been on the rise since the supermarket giant took them on and contributed $500,000 towards the label’s $1.5 million on-farm processing plant. “We’ve been really well supported by Coles; (they) really want to replace imported product with Australian product,” Mr Wiese said. “That’s led to really consistent customers which has been great. Over the last few years our demand from supermarkets has been really consistent and probably even growing a little bit. It’s been quite rewarding.” Sold under the Three Farmers, Red Tractor and Coles labels, chances were, if the label read ‘Australian Quinoa,’ it hailed from the Great Southern, Mr Wiese said, with the partnerships enabling more market penetration of the health food. Improvements in growing the protein-rich grain — which boasts the full range of amino acids and has been a staple in the diets of astronauts — could also see the superfood become a more affordable product. “As we get better growing it and more reliable supply, potentially the price will come down over time and make it more attractive for a consumer to buy,” Mr Weise said. “At the moment there’s quite a difference in price between quinoa and rice, which has a negative impact on wider adoption of quinoa into people’s diets.” While the past decade has been a tumultuous journey, the crop’s water efficiency and health benefits, coupled with the movement to minimise food miles and global demand on the rise, Mr Wiese was confident the grain had a strong and viable future in WA.