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Retailers supportive of quality program

Quality Management

Last year APAL embarked on a quality program for apples and pears, with the aim of improving the eating experience for consumers and building sales. The program is being run in partnership with Quality Associates, who have worked with the major retailers on a successful quality improvement program for the Australian Table Grape Association.

Aldi, Woolworths and Coles were approached and Quality Associates began a small program of collecting data from their high-volume stores in Melbourne and Sydney. High-volume stores were chosen because the huge sample size available provides more representative data.

Quality testing has been conducted at different points of the year – early season, late season and as the fruit comes out of storage – as well as when the fruit arrives at the retailers’ distribution centres and when it appears on shelves in stores. Initial testing has focused on Pink Lady and Gala apples and Packham and Williams pears, and a variety of parameters are looked at, including colour, internal browning, ripeness and ageing quality.

Pink Lady apples were an initial focus of the quality testing program.

“There were surprising results,” said Justin Smith, APAL Industry Services Manager. “What we’ve found is that a combination of our industry and the retailer’s management of fruit has, in some cases, led to consumers buying fruit that was out of specification and they haven’t had an optimum eating experience.”

Ahead of the APAL Forum, APAL will determine recommendations for the process of informing and managing growers whose fruit is falling outside the specification parameters.

“APAL has agreed to invest more in this program and look at ways to increase fruit maturity testing to provide information to industry and retailers,” said Justin. “We’re looking at adding to the Melbourne and Sydney mix, so we’ll begin collecting data from Brisbane as well.”

In addition, APAL has been funding Fruit Growers Victoria to provide pre-harvest maturity testing, where they go out into the field and collect data, which is then sent to the retailers. The retailers have been very supportive of this because it gives them a good understanding of fruit maturity and they are keen for APAL to continue to do that.

“Retailers would like the apple and pear industry to have a standard specification for each of the main apples and pears, so APAL is investigating this and collecting member feedback on it,” said Justin.

An update on the consumer quality testing project will be presented at the APAL Forum on 30 May.

Register via Eventbrite.

You can find out more about the quality testing project in these articles from the Spring 2021 edition of AFG:

‘Apple quality program takes lead from mango and table grape success’

‘Real time quality’

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