Marron growing: a Western Australian rural niche market?
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Purpose – Marron growing is practiced in some regions of Western Australia where this crustacean is a native species, and offers potential opportunities to be marketed as a delicacy and also to blend with other industries, including tourism, contributing to the marketing of a region. While these opportunities exist, to date little is known about the extent to which marron growing is meaningful to local entrepreneurs in commercial terms, their level of involvement with this industry, or constraints they may face. This paper aims to examine these dimensions to illustrate marron’s importance for the areas where they are grown. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 26 small marron growers accepted the invitation to participate in semi-structured face-to-face and telephone interviews. Findings – Operators’ comments illustrate the significant potential for marron to become both a niche market product as well as a rural niche market that helps promote the area where they are grown. However, growing marron as a full-time activity is still very limited; in fact, many respondents grow marron marginally and as an extra income stream because of the crustacean’s current high commercial value, thus suggesting the industry’s current developmental stage. Research limitations/implications – With some 200 marron growers in Western Australia, the number of participating operations is limited to make generalisations of the industry. Practical implications – With growing consumer sophistication, knowledge and interest in gourmet foods, the findings not only have implications for the marron growing industry, but also for hospitality and tourism, particularly in view of marron growing’s potential to blend with these industries. Originality/value – The study provides several insights into an unexplored area, marron growing and provides several areas for future research