EUROPEANS are sweet on Bungundarra pineapple farmer Barry Brooks' plants.
But it's not the tasty fruit they're hankering after - it's the enzyme bromelain in the juice and stem of the plants.
While Mr Brooks and his wife Eliane Barben's 400 acre farm harvests about four million pineapples a year, many of which are sold to Woolworths and Golden Circle, they are using the plants to branch into the cosmetics market.
The couple are in talks with a supplier for the popular Body Shop and eventually hope to sell it to pharmaceutical companies too.
Ms Barben already sells a special cream through her business.
Bromelain is known as an anti-inflammatory and has been touted as helping certain skin conditions and working against scarring.
It might be a secret to many Australians, but the health benefits of the plants date back centuries in South and Central America.
Bromelain is often used for digestion, as a supplement, and to boost general health.
It is also sought-after by medical practitioners in Germany for the treatment of inflammation, swelling and as a blood thinner.
Only this month University of New South Wales researchers revealed bromelain may be the key to making chemotherapy more effective for patients suffering from mesothelioma, a form of cancer commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.
Mr Brooks has been working on methods for extracting the bromelain with Ken Dooley from LSC Solutions and CQUniversity Associate Professor Kerry Walsh.
Mr Dooley explained after harvesting the pineapples, they mulched the plants to take the juice out and extract the bromelain.
"It can't be synthesized, it must be taken directly from the plant," Mr Brooks said.
"I'd like to see all Australians use it to be happier, healthier and fitter."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has been advising them about various Federal Government services that assist business groups with developing export markets.
She praised their vision as a courageous example of "tremendous innovation".
The MP said new ventures like this had the potential to bolster future employment, export potential and cash flow into the region.
Bromelain is sometimes used for:
- pain after surgery, sprains and strains, and tendinitis
- wounds and burns
- sinus inflammations
Source: University of Maryland Medical Center