Well, 2017 is certainly in full swing with the first round of Future Orchards® walks now complete and harvest well and truly underway. We’ve been hearing promising reports from growers across the country with many suggesting this is the best season quality-wise they’ve seen in years. Yield may be down slightly but the quality, colour and flavour are all there.
Clearly there has been a lot of small Williams pears harvested which have resulted in some very low, unsustainable retail pricing. Whilst APAL respects that commercial arrangements will always prevail, efforts to maintain and improve grower returns are an industry priority, so this kind of discounting needs to be managed carefully so long term price deflation is avoided.
Earlier this year I travelled with APAL’s Chair, Michele Allan and members of our commercial team to attend Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany. This was a great opportunity to support our commitment to the global Pink Lady® business and continue to strengthen valuable relationships with master licensees that have been forged over time by my predecessors.
It was also encouraging to see two leading Australian apple and pear businesses Montague and Lenswood Apples promoting their export businesses at Fruit Logistica. Increasing Australia’s apple and pear exports in the future is high on my agenda and in the coming months I look forward to paving the way for increased export volumes across all varieties and brands. As a start, our commercial team recently hosted a pre-season meeting for current Pink Lady exporters in the APAL office to discuss the 2017 Pink Lady export season.
Australia’s international reputation for supplying clean, green produce is one of our key marketing strengths. It’s important to keep this in mind when you receive notification to increase the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy from its current rate of zero to 0.05 cents/kilogram for fresh domestic and export apples and pears. Under the EPPR levy, our industry is required to contribute funds to the Varroa jacobsoni and Torres Strait Fruit Fly response plans to help eradicate such pests. The APAL Board has proposed to introduce this levy for a minimum of five years and after that period will review the industry’s funding commitments for these and other serious pest threats. If you have any objections or require more information about this levy please contact APAL or your local Director.
In recent weeks, we’ve welcomed a new Chief Financial Officer, Beth Schofield, to the team. Beth has a strong background in financial management having worked at Ernst & Young, a global accounting firm for 12 years. Beth was also the CFO and company secretary of Patties Foods Limited and has recently been working as a consultant while looking after her two young children. Beth will work in a part-time capacity and will continue to be supported by APAL’s Accounts Assistant Tamara Lefebvre.
I am still working to finalise APAL’s strategic plan and hope to share some of the detail and direction, including my vision for the industry in the next edition of Australian Fruitgrower. As always, my focus is on adding genuine value to apple and pear levy payers. I want to ensure a viable, profitable and sustainable future for our growers by prioritising activity that makes a difference.