Welcome to 2016 and the year that we start issuing hard copy editions of Australian Fruitgrower magazine every two months. The magazine will carry more detailed analyses to complement the daily apple and pear news emails, weekly Industry Juice newsletter and social media updates, which focus on current news. If you are not getting these and would like to, please contact Sophie Clayton (03 9999 2701 or email@example.com).
APAL commenced 2016 with a well-run and very relevant Post-harvest Seminar that recognised the importance of post-harvest in delivering first class apples and pears. By the time this magazine is out we will have completed another successful round of Future Orchards® walks. Well done Angus Crawford on both fronts.
The 2016 crop looks like another good crop of apples and, following the devastating hail storms in the Goulburn Valley, a leaner crop of pears. In the period up until harvest, we need to be vigilant watching weather, birds, bats and all the other threats to our crop.
Having a good crop is only great if we can sell it at reasonable prices, and as we know from last season – where we experienced the worst pricing for some years – we need to manage the markets and marketing well to ensure an equitable share of profits to everyone involved.
For domestic marketing, APAL has prepared a detailed analysis of the market research to establish why Australians are not buying more apples and pears. We met with the major retailers to see how the industry can work better with them and improve everyone’s profitability.
APAL has also prepared briefs for both an apple and pear campaign to address these barriers and, now that Hort Innovation is staffed in the marketing area, we will be working with them to implement the campaigns.
However, it’s not just about the domestic market. If we want to grow as an industry, we need long-term, reliable export markets for our apples and pears. The good news is that 2015 saw great growth in exports in pears that were up by 46 per cent – representing 14 per cent of our fresh pear crop. Apple exports were up 111 per cent, but off a small base. We still export less than 2 per cent of fresh apple production – we need to be at 10 per cent! The good news is that the declining Australian dollar is assisting by improving our trading position with 15 countries we trade or compete with.
APAL is also working on more cost effective ways to export to make us more competitive, for example, packing in export bins for those markets that repack our fruit locally. We don’t expect everyone to export, but we do need a significant volume of fruit to be exported and this can be done by 10-20 committed exporters with a particular focus on Pink Lady™ apples. We will also be focusing on new markets for Australian apples and pears.
This brings me to the 2016 National Horticulture Convention, which is scheduled for 23-25 June on the Gold Coast, with AUSVEG and the Central Markets Association of Australia in partnership with Fresh Markets Australia (CMAA-FMA). The key challenges mentioned above will be covered at the Convention with equal attention to pre- and post-harvest issues and, importantly, ways to improve both our domestic sales, pricing and growing exports.
I look forward to seeing many of you there this year and to meeting as many of you as possible in my field visits around the growing regions this year.
All the best for 2016.