Costa announces half-yearly results

Firm reports lower profit number than expected but remains on target for medium to long term growth

Following reports of lower than expected sales ahead of Christmas, Costa Group has announced detail of its performance in the six months to 30 December 2018.

Costa CEO, Harry Debney said the results were anticipated to be considerably lower because of the muted trading performance during December.

“The six-month financial period to December has delivered a lower profit number than expected. There were several contributing factors to this, some of which had been accounted for including bringing African Blue on to our balance sheet as a result of majority ownership, additional preharvest farming cost investment through our increased international footprint and an ‘off’ citrus season in terms of the biennial nature of the crop,” said Debney.

The company said it remains on track to meet medium to long term profit growth objectives, which incorporate its five core product categories as well as international development.

Revenue decreased in the produce segment by 4.3 per cent compared with the six months prior, and total transacted sales were at A$615.7m compared with A$620.3m in the first half of 2018.

Citrus

The biennial nature of citrus is said to have caused the 4.3 per cent dip in revenue for Costa’s produce department. Lower quality toward the tail end of the season was also to blame.

“Exports for the 2018 calendar season comprised 73 per cent of packed volume, with Japan being the largest market taking 40 per cent of total exports, followed by the US, New Zealand and China,” said Debney. “Exposure to the Korean market is expected to increase in 2019 as tariffs are further reduced under the Australia – Korea Free Trade Agreement.”

Avocados

Costa’s avocados also journeyed to Asia this year for the first season. The company said 60,000 trays of exports were initiated to markets in South East Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Domestic crop was mainly sourced from northern New South Wales, with some residual volume coming from Queensland. Central Queensland’s overlap with the end of Western Australia’s season resulted in a supply glut that lowered prices.

Berries

Strong production volumes for blueberries were also apparent at Costa’s Corindi farm in New South Wales but were offset by lower volumes from Queensland.

A new Arana premium variety attracted a 23 per cent premium on 200g packs at retail level and a double-digit premium at wholesale.

The company said raspberry contribution was disappointing.

Internationally, earnings from Costa’s Morocco, China and Americas-based operations are weighted to the first half of 2018, the company said.

Pre-harvest investment in Morocco and China through July-December decreased earnings which occur during the harvest period in the first half of the year.

“There has been a good early start to the blueberry harvest at the main Manlai farm with positive market reception reflected in premium pricing received for our large ‘jumbo’ berries,” said Debney.

The company said Driscoll’s US-based royalties produced continued revenue growth.

Tomato

Tomatoes also experienced an undesirable result with an excellent production of snacking varieties being met by weaker retail performance, resulting in more sales across the wholesale channel lowering price realisation. Truss production and pricing was also lower.

Costa will be showcasing a new truss variety in 2019 called Endeavour, which it said features enhanced yield, shelf life and disease resistance.

Mushroom

Mushrooms bucked the fluctuation trend and met financial targets for the period.

The recent higher cost of straw is expected to manifest over 2019 as Costa replenishes inventory stock. A new compost facility is also expected to have a positive impact and will operate from the fourth quarter of 2019.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Australian fresh produce industry gearing up for export security changes

The Australian fresh produce sector is preparing for changes to air cargo export regulations, which will be introduced next week.

From 1 March 2019 all international export air cargo from Australia must be examined at piece-level by a Regulated Air Cargo Agent (RACA), or originate from a Known Consignor, and use technology like x-ray, or be physically inspected.

The Department of Home Affairs says the changes are necessary to strengthen security.

"The Australian Government’s first priority is to keep Australians safe and secure," a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs said. "Aviation is an enduring and attractive target for terrorists. The Department has a strong and comprehensive aviation security framework that is continually revised to ensure that we remain ahead of the evolving threat."

The Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA) has previously warned the move will have costly implications on Australian fresh produce industries, and has estimated total added costs to the industry could be up to A$0.22/kg, as well as up to a 24-hour delay at terminals.

The Department of Home Affairs says it has given the industry plenty of notice and that it has pro-actively engaged with industry to foster readiness for including writing directly to exporters.

"Security examination of export air cargo is not new," the spokes-person said. "All export air cargo is already examined prior to uplift onto an aircraft. The requirements being introduced on 1 March 2019 have been in place for United States bound cargo since July 2017. If businesses have questions about how the change will impact their current arrangements, they should contact their supply chain in the first instance."

The Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) are one of many industry groups that have advised their members to prepare themselves for the change, also advising that Currently, 30 per cent of Australian Cherries are exported to more than 30 countries in a highly competitive international market. It adds, that exporting cherries is a specialised market requiring attention and detail to cultural sensitivities, biosecurity, packaging, market access and entry and transportation. The type and variety of cherry exported is determined by market access and cultural tendencies accounting for preferences in taste, colour and flavour.

Exporters who have not already done so, should consider things like: packaging of products, handling of consolidated cargo, scheduling of deliveries, and how cargo is transported to reduce possible changes to delivery times and increased costs, therefore reducing delays. Businesses should also Consider becoming a 'Known Consignor'.

Further information about the change can be found on the Department’s webpage, www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/our-portfolios/transport-security/air-cargo-and-aviation/air-cargo


Publication date : 2/22/2019
Author: matthew@freshplaza.com
© FreshPlaza.com

Philippine bananas eyeing Australia

Asian nation hopes to gain access soon and diversify exports as global competition with South America tightens.

Once the primary concern of black sigatoka disease is addressed, Manila is hopeful it will gain access to Australia for Philippine bananas.

In a bid to diversify its export portfolio amid growing pressure from South American banana suppliers, the country is exploring new markets for its major export commodity.

Later this month, the Bureau of the Plant Industry and the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (BPGEA) will submit technical documents to Canberra covering comprehensive Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

Stephen Antig, president of the BPGEA said Australia is likely to be a small market, considering it has banana plantations and its own banana export programmes. However, he noted that Philippine bananas can maintain a competitive advantage in price point as they are cheaper than locally-grown Australian bananas.

Business Mirror reported that in late November, the Philippines and Australia held a round of agricultural talks in Canberra focusing on SPS concerns. In that meeting, a six-month timeframe was set for Australia to evaluate documents and decide on if it would pass Manila’s SPS and quarantine standards.

Agriculture undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the Philippines is optimistic it would overcome SPS concerns set by Australia.

He said the industry has a very early response to sigatoka, destroying a plant upon detection at its roots, before the disease can spread further. “If we see something wrong with the roots, we address it immediately and the plant will not grow anymore.”

According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, in 2018 the Philippines regained its place as the second-largest global supplier of bananas, with Ecuador in the lead.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Camellia Aebischer

How Northern Territory mangoes went from luxury item to household staple

It's the taste of summer: juice dripping down your chin and a tropical aroma overwhelming your senses.

Many of us just can't get enough of Australian mangoes.

This season, 10 million trays were packed from the tropics of northern Australia and sent to markets in southern Australia or exported overseas.

Not long ago, the same fruit was considered a luxury.

So how have mango growers turned their product into a summer essential?

The avocado effect
In recent years, the mango industry has achieved success similar to avocado growers, who managed to change consumer opinions of the fruit from a luxury to a household staple.

Seventy-six per cent of the population now buy mangoes, compared to 66 per cent in 2014, according to data from the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA).

The Northern Territory is now not only the largest grower of mangoes in the country, but also a consumer favourite.

AMIA CEO Robert Gray said over time, Australians had changed how and when they used the popular fruit.

"We know that simply slicing, dicing and demolishing the delicious king of fruits is still one of the most popular ways that consumers are enjoying their mangoes," he said.

"We have seen a shift in the way people are using their mangoes, whether that be in a salad, thrown on the barbeque, in a smoothie or used in a dessert."

Mr Gray said the industry had learnt from avocado growers, and now had a strong focus on quality and reliability.

"Avocados are one fruit that have increased consumption by creating multiple uses and occasions," he said.

"We believe that the same can be said for mango consumption."

Martina Matzner manages one of the biggest mango farms in the Northern Territory, Calypso Mango in Darwin.

She said targeted production would help spread out mango sales during the short selling period.

"You target the areas that aren't buying mangoes yet," she said.

"That would obviously help the industry to increase demand for potential overproduction in a short period of time because it's such a seasonal thing."

Ms Matzner said growing mango varieties that extend the harvesting period would also boost already-booming sales.

"At the moment, it's still only a three to six-month season and if we can succeed with different varieties to extend it, automatically [mangoes] will become more of a staple diet," she said.

According to industry body statistics, the number of households purchasing 11 or more mangoes per season has jumped 11 per cent since 2013, which, combined with rising prices, has led to a 71 per-cent increase in retail value.

There are now 800 growers nation-wide, producing about $191 million dollars worth of fruit every year.

Domestic exports to Sydney and Melbourne dominate the market, but the next hurdle for the industry is to secure more international markets in Asia, Europe and most importantly, the United States, which accounts for approximately 30 per cent of all mango imports.

If growers succeed, the AMIA forecasts the industry will be worth almost $280 million by June 2022.

Avoiding a repeat of the strawberry crisis
At the Darwin farm, new technology has been brought in to ensure high quality and transparency throughout the growing process.

Packing may look rudimentary, but recent contamination scares and an ongoing consumer demand for traceability have seen the farm implement a system to track every piece of fruit from its tree all the way to point of sale.

The result is a powerhouse of data collection.

Every mango has a barcode which can be traced to identify who packed it and its condition when it was packed.

Another barcode on each box details which field the fruit came from, the time of day it was picked, and which employee did the picking.

Barcodes on fruit and packing boxes store data that meets a demand for traceability and helps with yield predictions. 

"With the click of a button, you hold [the tracking machine] against the fruit and then it tells you what the dry matter is, it maps the GPS and then I can see it on the map," Ms Matzner said.

"It overlays a farm map right to the row, right to the particular tree."

The data collection also takes the guesswork out of estimating the yield and packing requirements.

"All the technology we now involve is to try to get precise yield predictions," Ms Matzner said.

"You look at the map and you can actually target the areas you're picking, taking the risk out of picking immature fruit.

"Once you know your yield predictions, if you know it early enough, you know how many staff you need, you know when you're going to harvest what, you know how many trucks you need, you know how many cardboard boxes you need."

A challenging harvest in the hot and wet
Another substantial challenge of getting the desirable fruit to market is a time-consuming harvest.

Mango season in the Northern Territory is traditionally during the infamously brutal build-up, the period between the dry season and monsoon, when humidity lurks around 90 per cent and dark clouds linger but rarely deliver rain.

In the dry season, usually June and July, cooler temperatures allow the mango tree to flower, which then produces fruit.

Farmers then have to wait, hoping all their fruit flowers at roughly the same time and in large numbers.

The biggest obstacle, however, is getting the fruit off the trees.

Harvesting is a monumental job, with 90 tonnes of fruit picked every day.

The fruit only lasts a few weeks, so it must be packed and transported almost 4,000 kilometres to market before the quality starts to degrade.

Ms Matzner said an organised system and hard work from 130 backpackers made the laborious process run more smoothly.

"We have people from all over the world that have travelled halfway around the world to come and be part of a mango harvest," she said.

"The opportunities up here are endless. If you want to do something and you believe in it, this is the place to come.

"Farming is technology, farming is exciting."

Souce: Landline By Kristy O'Brien and Anna Levy

Australian mangoes promoted in Korea

1,200 guests enjoyed a taste of Australian summer at an Australia Day-eve event held in Seoul

Fresh Australian mangoes supplied by Australian mango supplier Manbulloo were front and centre at a celebration on 25 January at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul, hosted by the Australian Embassy.

The event was given the theme ‘Australia Day Open’ and combined iconic Australian foods with a live screening of the Australian Open semi-final tennis match.

The My Mango newsletter reported that mangoes were showcased at a dessert buffet table featuring mini pavlova’s, mango pudding, mango smoothies and mango ice cream using 20 trays of fresh Manbulloo R2E2 fruit, delivered by Jinwon Trading.

Guests including government and business representatives, media and influencers attended the event which was a celebration of all things Australian.

Australia enjoys a 24 per cent import tariff when sending mangoes to Korea. This is around six percentage points less than many other countries who must comply with the standard 30 per cent applied to WTO members. Australia has been shipping mango to Korea since it gained an access protocol in 2010.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit
Author: Camellia Aebischer

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/ 

China and the great international avocado takeover

The avocado is spreading to every corner of the world. It is difficult to know why the avocado is catching on globally. It may be the influence of the US culinary culture. It could be a result of marketing efforts. It might also just be that in the age of globalization, the most delicious foods will inevitably find their way into the mouths of discerning eaters no matter where they are.

The avocado boom is decades-long in the US. But since 2015, growth in avocado imports to the US have slowed. The rest of the world picked up the slack. For example, imports to China grew from just 154 tons in 2012 to over 31,000 tons in 2017. Data from the first quarter of 2018 suggests the growth continued. Other countries that have seen similar spikes in recent years include Saudi Arabia, Ireland and South Korea.


Read the rest of the article : https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9066889/china-and-the-great-international-avocado-takeover/

Australian citrus sees opportunity in Vietnam

Trade figures for Australian citrus exports have shown preference in Vietnam for larger fruit
Citrus Australia trade figures ending November 2018 show Australia had exported a total of 247,000 tonnes, at A$448m (US$320m) in citrus in the 12 months to 30 November.

The industry body said the slight decline in volume was attributed to a lighter mandarin crop out of the northern state of Queensland, compared with 2017, but that export volumes to date were better than previously predicted due to a larger orange crop.

Key markets, China and Japan, took 50 per cent and 18 per cent of the country’s orange exports respectively, with China importing almost a third (30 per cent) of the total mandarin share.

Vietnam also shone through as an emerging market, with export figures continuing to grow. David Daniels, Citrus Australia market development manager said Vietnam was becoming an important market for Australian citrus.

“Vietnamese consumers prefer slightly larger fruit, which complements fruit [sizes] required in other markets,” he said. “Demand in these smaller markets means further opportunities for Australian growers.”

“Key markets in 2018 were China, Japan, the US, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates,” Citrus Australia said in a statement. “Thailand was our second biggest market for mandarins, taking 12 per cent or 7,396 tonnes, while the US took 10 per cent of mandarins or 6,190 tonnes.”

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Northern Australia launches initiative to boost mango exports to China

There is a new Australian initiative, joining experts and producers to boost the export of North Australian mangoes by some 200 percent.

The 1.6-million US dollar undertaking was announced on Monday and will be led by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), involving Australia's leading Calypso mango exporter Perfection Fresh (Perfection), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the University of Queensland (UQ).

Northern Territory project manager Sally Leigo from the CRCNA told Xinhua that a number of new mango plantations being established in the region have prompted the industry to look for new and innovative export avenues. Key to the new strategy will be moving from airfreight to sea freight, allowing for a larger amount of produce to be moved, but creating the distinct problem of maintaining freshness during the 18-day journey from Brisbane to China.

"An issue that the team in this project certainly want to tackle is, how can you maintain the quality of that fresh mango throughout the transportation and various handling procedures once it arrives," Leigo said. "A key with mangoes is making sure they don't ripen too quickly during the transportation process."

Because the ripeness process is affected by heat, the team intend to use data loggers to monitor the temperatures within refrigeration units, with information being sent via satellite to make sure that the fruit is at its best when it arrives.

Leigo said the success of the project will mean Chinese consumers are able to enjoy even more of this coveted fruit counter-season to their own market. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2021.


Publication date : 1/15/2019
Source: www.freshplaza.com

Lemons quite pricey in Australia right now

Lemon prices have gone soaring because of the weak Australian dollar; local supermarkets are selling the fruit at top dollar. Lemons in Woolworths and Coles are selling for as much as $2 each, or $8.80 per kilo, at a time of year when the fruit is most popular. The normal retail price is about $3.99-4.99 per kilo.

Lemons are always slightly more expensive during the Australian summer because they are imported from the United States, Citrus Australia chairman Ben Cant said: “ There's some Australian lemons around, but it isn't enough to meet demand so we import from the US and a limited amount from Spain. The exchange rate in the US is making it more expensive than the normal Australian fruit.”

"The light supply also coincides with higher demand ... because [there is] more use for them in recipes and drinks and alcohol at this time of year. The few Australian growers who have fruit at the moment, they'll be getting good money but they won't have a lot of lemons."

Cant said prices would come down in March when more Australian lemons were ready to be picked. "As soon as Australian fruit is available we ask consumers to help us out and get back on board. We can't beat Mother Nature.”

Source: smh.com.au via www.freshplaza.com 


Publication date : 1/9/2019

Early engagement core to market access in China

With market access negotiations underway for Australian mainland apples and strong progress made towards the launch of Pink Lady® in China, Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) are doubling down on their efforts to forge relationships in the region.

“This is our third visit to mainland China in the last 12 months,” said Andrew Hooke, APAL Director Global Development, of the team’s November trip. “Market access is probably still some time away, but we are doing all that we can to accelerate this by articulating the benefits to China and generating excitement around our product.”

The most recent visit coincided with the China Fruit & Vegetable Fair where Australian fresh produce was appreciated by Chinese officials at the trade display hosted by Hort Innovation and Taste Australia.

During the visit, APAL also participated in the 2018 International Seminar on Inspection Technical Cooperation sponsored and hosted by China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA).

“CIQA plays an important role in securing access for Australian mainland apples so it was quite an honour to have APAL’s own Head of Global Quality and Innovation, Andrew Mandemaker, invited to address the delegates,” explained Andrew. The prestigious event was attended Professor Guo Lisheng, Senior Advisor of CIQA; Mr Paul McNamara, Minister Counsellor from the Australian Embassy; and Mr Adam Balcerak Department of Agriculture.

In addition to informal discussions, APAL was also asked to present to the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China.

“We are building the business case for the size and sophistication of the Australian apple industry and its value to the Chinese consumer, every chance we get.”

“The quality of the existing commercial relationships between APAL and Chinese government officials and business partners, reinforces our commitment to an industry partnership, which will be a key driver for the Chinese government supporting market access,” said Andrew.

For more information:
Apple and Pear Australia Limited
Phone: +61 3 9329 3511
Fax: +61 3 9329 3522
Email: ea@apal.org.au
www.apal.org.au


Publication date : 1/9/2019

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Japan and Australia to try out year-round fruit production

Project will take advantage of seasonal difference to grow high-end products for export
TOKYO -- Japan and Australia will start as early as April a joint project to harvest high-end fruit all year round, taking advantage of two countries' seasonal differences.

The two countries will contribute farmland, personnel and technology for the project, which is also aimed at encouraging businesses to participate in the unique farming structure.

The two governments mean to develop new markets for luxury produce, which will be targeted at wealthy consumers in China and Southeast Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison agreed on a plan to proceed with building a cooperative structure at a summit in November 2018. The two leaders "recognized the potential for the two countries to boost agricultural exports into international markets through cooperation on bilateral counter-seasonal production," according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

The deal will enable Japanese farmers, who usually grow fruit in summer and fall, to also grow them in Australia when Japan is in winter, allowing them to harvest in all seasons. As the two countries have little time difference, farmers in one can monitor farms in the other in real time using video and provide instructions to staff on site.


The project will start in the northeastern Australian town of Ayr, where melons will be grown on a farm to be set up using land and greenhouses provided by the Australian side.

Japan will dispatch private-sector farmers from rural areas, including Fukuoka Prefecture, to the farm to provide necessary technological assistance and train local staff on farming the fruit.

The farmers will try Japanese farming techniques on an Australian melon variety and see if they can achieve the required quality and sugar content.

The project will seek to set up farms in other areas of the northeastern state of Queensland, where Ayr is located. They will also grow Japanese persimmons and strawberries.

By leading the project, the two countries aim to lay the groundwork for the year-round production scheme to encourage private-sector businesses to enter the unique farming scheme.

The first crop of fruit will be sent for quality inspections in Singapore and Thailand to see if they are viable for sale.

The two countries' interests could collide in rice, beef and dairy production, possibly spurring complaints from farmers on both sides. Therefore, they decided to cooperate in luxury fruit because there should be less overlap.

The cooperation could also attract new demand, including for the gift market. In 2017, Japan exported nearly 40,000 tons of fruit overseas, worth about 20 billion yen ($184 million). The total export volume and value have jumped 160% and 250%, respectively, over the past five years.

As the economies grow, high-income groups are increasing in China and ASEAN countries. With the luxury fruit market expanding, Ginza Sembikiya and other fruit distributors can expect more profit by selling luxury fruit year-round.

Japan and Australia are cooperating in more than luxury fruit. The two countries are jointly conducting a large shrimp farming project in the Northern Territory. In March 2017, Japan signed a memorandum with the government of Queensland to develop a new variety of soybeans starting in April 2018.

The northern part of the country is less populated and developed. The Australian government hopes Japan's technical cooperation will boost development in the area, which includes a third of the country's land.

 

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com

Author: SAKI HAYASHI

 

Australia: Hail causes “significant” losses on cherry orchards in NSW region

A hailstorm that hit Australia in late December has caused substantial losses in a New South Wales region but will not have a significant impact on national volumes this season, according to an industry body.

Although hail was experienced over a wide area of the country last month, damage within the cherry industry is localized to the Orange region, which has been declared an agricultural natural disaster zone.

Cherry Growers Australia president Tom Eastlake said the damage was incurred from one single hail event.

“Orchards in the hail affected area are significantly affected, but not all orchards in Orange are affected,” he said, adding that there have been no impacts on farms outside this area.

Although the Orange orchards have been severely impacted, Eastlake said the hail would not have a significant effect on national volumes for the 2018-19 season, which is now in full swing.

“Expect overall harvest tonnage is to be up this year, however, the drought has affected yields in some areas and rain (and aforementioned hail) will impact total tonnage. The total amount to be harvested now is unknown and may be down on initial expectations, although there is still expected to be an increase on 2017-2018 tonnage,” he said.
Cherries are grown across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, with small production in Queensland and Western Australia.

Source: https://www.freshfruitportal.com