Developing a winning variety

By Andrew Maughan With experience in rolling out new branded varieties such as Modi™, Honey Belle™, PIQA® Boo® , Sumo Citrus™ and Kiwiberry®, Andrew Maughan spoke at Asia Fruit Logistica about how to select and develop a winning variety.

Honey Belle, Modi and Piqa Boo

From left: Honey Belle, Modi and Piqa Boo.

The ultimate goal with any managed or club variety is for all parts of the supply chain – breeders, growers, retailers – to be profitable and sustainable. New varieties can provide a crucial point-of-difference in an increasingly competitive and commodity-driven market. Intellectual Property (IP) has become a popular choice to achieve point-of-difference, but the success of an IP program does not depend solely on whether or not it is a good variety (from a growing perspective). It is a constant challenge to balance the needs and aspirations of the variety owners and breeders with those of all supply chain stakeholders.

Cooperation, collaboration, commitment

In the FreshmaxTM experience, entering into a managed or club variety structure requires stakeholders to work towards the common good of the variety or club. Even if this sometimes means they are required to make sacrifices in their individual business. There must be cooperation and collaboration between breeder, grower, packer, marketer and retailer, and a commitment from all parties for the good of the variety. There are three main principles of best practice in IP program delivery:

  1. It must start with exciting/excellent plant material (filling a supply window, improved eating quality, tonnage/yield, ease of growing).
  2. Be founded on a cooperative management model with disciplines and rules.
  3. The branding, marketing and sales strategies must all be consumer focused and engage industry.

Whatever the party in the supply chain, they will have different objectives and mechanisms for achieving these. You have to map these out and work out what works best for everyone.

Getting volumes right is crucial

To avoid oversupply you need to understand what peak demand would look like for the new variety and then establish a production cap. It is also critical to establish routes to market to support the necessary growth in volume. As one route to market reaches its maximum capacity for demand, you need to have other markets and channels emerging to respond to the product. This might include bringing on export relations ahead of a domestic market being saturated. Consult and engage with your current and prospective customers to understand what they want and what they need. A proposed variety should fit the needs and desires of multiple markets – this affords you greater flexibility and sustainability in demand.

Designing and controlling a brand

Critical to the expanding success of an IP variety is its brand. The best brands are ‘glocalised’ – controlled and rolled out across all regions, and then customised at a local level. Branding needs to be in terms that all parties can understand. Trademark and Plant Breeders Rights (PBR)/Plant Variety Rights (PVR) protection (where possible) is imperative in the territories where the variety is to be grown and marketed. This requires the establishment of due process and ownership to monitor that this protection is upheld and any breaches are addressed. Before the first tree goes in the ground it is important to build a roadmap for on-going learning around the technical requirements for the variety. It takes time to truly understand the agronomic nuances and flaws of the variety to ensure sustained success. All varieties will have technical challenges and it is important to understand them as best as possible to allow for them to be successfully managed. Commercial planning for an IP variety requires a solid foundation, including building a business plan which establishes the market positioning of the brand and product, and identifies the sustainable competitive advantages and opportunities, as well as the risks.

About the author

Andrew Maughan is in charge of IP Management and Commercialisation for Freshmax Australia, amaughan@freshmax.com.au. Andrew was also the recipient of the APAL 2015 National Awards for Excellence Productivity Partner Award.

By |September 28th, 2015|Varieties and rootstock|

About the Author:

National Business Manager, FreshMax