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Determining our own transformation


Summer inevitably brings a feeling of ‘Where has the year gone?’, but this year it seems especially so when you consider there are less than 30 days remaining of 2019 – and of this decade.

2019 has seen the first phase of APAL’s five-year Industry Strategy to rebuild export excellence, build industry intelligence and data, lift industry capability, and bolster sustainability. There’s undoubtedly a long way to go, but it’s important to recognise and celebrate some of the milestones that indicate we’re headed in the right direction:

Industry driven

Backed by grower demands for an industry-inclusive marketing strategy and structure, the 2019 establishment of a Strategic Marketing Panel (SMP) represents a fundamental shift in the way your marketing levy will be invested in the future.

Meeting for the first time in October, the SMP now comprises APAL, Hort Innovation, as well as industry and FMCG marketing expertise. Selected through a competitive process, Cameron Carter – Seeka Australia, Mitchell McNab – HV McNab & Sons Orchards and Nardia Stacy – Executive Manager, PomeWest, will provide that much needed, next-generational industry input to the SMP.

It was abundantly clear to all at our first meeting that the disconnect between favourable marketing and media metrics, and real behavioural change at the cash register, cannot continue. By the time of publication, the SMP will have met again to commence the planning work on a genuine marketing reset.

Profit based

Based on reports of growers and packhouse managers suddenly finding themselves ‘uninsurable’, an early priority for Future Business has been to conduct a feasibility study into self-insurance structures, such as a Discretionary Mutual Fund, to help control and manage burgeoning insurance costs.  Work will continue into 2020 as we consider the appropriateness of this model.

Growers at the centre

Once an area of under-investment for APAL, industry advocacy shifted up the proverbial gear this year, funded by the proceeds of our commercial business. Access to water, a National Netting Program (Federal netting funding was announced for Vic and SA in late November), reforms to visas, biosecurity and extensive work to improve market access, have all received positive engagement from growers and government alike, and APAL will keep pressure on these schemes well into the new year.


In addition to the new Young Leaders’ Network and refreshed Industry Forum and Grower R&D Update events, APAL has been working steadily to secure growers a higher return for Australia’s most-produced apple. The premium, pre-pack concept aims to differentiate ‘export quality’ Pink Lady® apples from everyday Pink Lady in the domestic market. Sub-branded “John’s Pick”, the pilot debuted in 41 select Coles stores for a six week pilot this spring.

On the brink of a new decade, I am certain of one thing: 10 years from now, the apple and pear industry will operate completely differently. Climate change, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data and genomics will have completely transformed the way we work today. Whether this is good or bad, profitable or not, will be up to all of us – growers, packhouses, researchers, exporters and us here at APAL – to determine.

My warmest wishes for a safe and happy Christmas and productive start to harvest 2020!

Phil Turnbull


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