By John Dollisson
As we progress towards fruiting in the orchard, the risks from external threats increase. Unfortunately we saw the effect of this with the severe hailstorm that hit the Goulburn Valley in October – potentially damaging up to 35 per cent of the Australian pear crop. APAL is working with the affected growers on a new campaign ‘Hailstorm Heroes’ to ensure much of the fruit is saved, sold and delivers the grower a reasonable return. The supermarkets have been receptive to supporting this initiative which is good news for the industry too.
We have also taken over the short-term management of apple and pear marketing while Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) fills their marketing role. During this period we will focus on analysing the data and research findings collected by Hort Innovation in order to prepare an informed apple and pear category management plan for the 2016 crop.
From there, we will set out our proposed marketing and promotional campaigns to address how we can best work with the markets. We also intend to engage with the major supermarkets and wholesale markets in a much more collaborative way than has been achieved in the past.
It’s imperative that we work together to understand each other perspectives – that will be critical in order to achieve collective success for all.
Other marketing tasks include maximising the benefit of social media interaction for growers, updating the Aussie Apples and Rediscover the Pear websites and introducing a new pear marketing campaign.
November is a very important month with the annual general meetings for both Hort Innovation and the Voice of Horticulture (VOH) taking place on Friday, 27 November, 2015. This is a chance for industry to vote for new directors of Hort Innovation and voice any needs and concerns to ensure R&D and marketing levy funds are spent effectively.
At the official APAL office opening Senator Anne Ruston made it clear that the industry’s success lies in having an effective advocacy voice (namely, the VOH) and keeping Hort Innovation on track to deliver real benefits to growers and much needed targeted and strategic investment in R&D. As the new Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Ruston is keen to assist both organisations in working together to capitalise on the huge growth opportunities in horticulture in the coming decade. The Senator also complimented APAL for its senior role in the industry and for setting a great example as an independently funded peak industry body.
This year we have seen a significant increase in exports in both the apple and pear categories. We now need to build on this momentum and commit to longer term export markets so we can grow the industry and domestic profitability.
As we progress towards harvest our thoughts are with you for a successful crop. Thanksgiving, the celebration of the harvest in America, is almost here. And while Australia may not have an equivalent celebration, the sentiment remains the same — may your pears be prosperous and your apples bring affluence in 2016.