Northwest cherry harvest kicks off

The region has been spared by heavy winter damage and is looking likely to meet its 23m-carton estimate
The Northwest cherry industry is looking well positioned to meet its crop estimate of 23m cartons.

Last Friday, harvest was predicted to kick off over the following few days and will be easing into full swing this week. It will take the industry around two weeks to begin reaching the 200,000 carton-a-day mark.

Following a growers meeting in May which collected predicted yield data, industry volunteers have gathered on-the-ground orchard data for an official crop estimate.

The estimate came in at 23m 20lb (9kg) cartons, after a series of four estimates covering nearly three-quarters of the industry’s orchards.

Field reports have come back with instances of fewer flowers per bud, which would typically translate into larger and better fruit as the tree’s growing energy is distributed into fewer cherries. The Northwest Cherry Growers Association noted that the larger fruit will impact total production and overall shipping velocities by region and variety.

Despite a low yielding season for the California cherry crop, the Northwest was spared heavy winter damage.

In the month of June, the association predicts 9m cartons of cherries will be shipped out, ahead of last year’s 7.7m. The Yakima Valley has warmed up early this year, meaning there will be four Northwest regions shipping simultaneously.


Author: Camellia Aebischer

Produce in firing line as US sparks trade war

The EU, Canada and Mexico consider retaliatory measures in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports
The US has announced the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, prompting fears of a protracted and damaging trade war.

Almost immediately after president Donald Trump’s announcement, the Mexican government issued a statement announcing that it would impose equivalent measures on various US imports including apples, table grapes and cranberries.

The measures would remain in effect until the US government eliminated the import tariffs, the Ministry for the Economy said.

The latest trade data available from ITC suggests that, of the three products, the US apple export trade would stand to lose the most from a Mexican tariff hike.

Mexico is by far the largest importer of US apples, with sales worth US$276.5m last year, compared with US$174.3m in Canada and US$97.4m in India.

Mark Powers, president of the Yakima, Washington-based Northwest Horticultural Council, said the move was expected to cause substantial damage to the industry.

Mexico is the third major market to impose tariffs on Washington apples as a result of US trade policy on steel and aluminium this year.

Last week, India announced plans to put a 30 per cent retaliatory tariff on US apples – on top of the 50 per cent tariff that they are already subjected to, while in China US fruit imports have faced a 15 per cent hike in tariffs since 2 April.

Sales of US fresh apples to Mexico may have declined slightly in recent years, but last year they were 21 per cent up on the previous campaign.

Meanwhile, fresh cranberry exporters in the US have seen the value of their business in Mexico increase considerably over the past few years, albeit from a low starting point. According to ITC, Mexican import sales rose by 30 per cent to just under US$1.27m between 2013 and 2017.

As for table grapes, the value of US sales to Mexico fell by 2 per cent to US$97.2m during 2013-2017, although ITC noted a 26 per cent increase in 2017 compared with the previous campaign.

WTO case opened

The EU, meanwhile, has confirmed it is opening a case at the World Trade Organisation in response to the new US duties, with EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström expected to announce retaliatory "proportionate" tariffs on US exports including cranberries "in accordance with WTO rules".

Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative on foreign policy, told journalists: "The European Union will today proceed with the WTO dispute settlement case adding those additional duties on a number of imports from the United States. The European Union measures will be reasonable, proportionate and in full compliance with WTO rules and obligations.”

The decision by the White House was dubbed “patently absurd” by the UK’s international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who suggested the UK would be prepared for “tit-for-tat” moves. “We absolutely do not rule out counter measures,” he asserted.

When the initial threat of tariffs was raised by the US back in March, the EU pledged to retaliate with tariffs on American imports such as orange juice, cranberries and bourbon.

“Logically, these unilateral measures on steel and aluminium will lead to multiple counter reactions around the world, and for sure they will be challenged within the WTO,” said Philippe Binard, general delegate of European fresh produce association Freshfel Europe.

“The EU has already published a list of potential retaliatory measures that will be effective from 18 June, including on orange juice, cranberry juice and sweet corn. Elsewhere in the world, retaliatory measures may include increased taxes on US fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The question, according to Binard, is whether or not the US will remove its measures on steel and aluminium in order to avoid triggering such a response.

Additional reporting by Mike Knowles and Maura Maxwell


Author: Tom Joyce

WA Avocado growers looking forward to developing market in Japan

A Western Australian avocado packer has welcomed new market access to Japan, saying it will be needed to help ensure growers get a good price for their produce into the future.

Last week, the Australian government reached a new protocol agreement for Hass avocados with Japan, and will be calling for applications for accreditation for growers in the coming weeks. Managing Director of Karri Country Produce, Jennie Franceschi, says at the current rate of industry expansion producers will need new markets like this to develop, with a major increase in volume forecast for coming years.

"It's a positive step as there are a lot of trees in the ground and production in Australia is going to be increasing significantly," she said. "So the figures I have been given by industry, there are 30 per cent of trees not producing and 20 per cent of trees that are producing, but not in full production. So that means half the trees in the ground are either not producing or under producing. I always think it's important to have many market distribution channels."

She praised the Australian Government for getting this access, saying the more supply channels available means more diversity and therefore more stability. Ms Franceschi adds that prices are "not exciting" for growers at the moment due to the amount of fruit on the market.

"The industry as a whole is under a bit of pressure at the moment," Ms Franceschi said. "We haven't seen these sort of returns in around five years. I think it's just getting people to eat them. There have been some very good sales, but it just hasn't encouraged more people to buy. So it's not really price, and I am not sure why people are not buying. There are good volumes around and very good quality. So, if you look at the current pricing in Australia, we will be very effective up there (in Japan)."

Initially the opportunity will only be available to fruit fly free areas, such as Western Australia, Riverland (South Australia) and Tasmania, and Ms Franceschi admits there may not be huge number of volumes at first, as growers get an understanding of the market.

"I don't think there will be huge quantities, but I will definitely be putting some fruit up there," she said. "Just to understand the lay of the land, as I think that's important to do that and learn. I have worked with the Japanese lately and I have found them to be honourable. They are hard, like you've got to go through a process, but they are very honourable. So I think it's very promising."

Among Australia's advantages is the proximity to Asia, meaning the fruit can get to market fairly quickly as well as Australia's clean and green image. This has put the produce high on the list for many Asian countries, according to Ms Franceschi, who conducted her own taste testing while recently in Malaysia.

"They had some fruit from other countries, as well as fruit from Australia - not Western Australian, but East Coast fruit," Ms Franceschi said. "We bought some from other countries, because we wanted to understand why our fruit was retailing for more, which was quite a premium over these other countries. I wanted to see if there was a legitimate reason for this. But when we cut the fruit there wasn't a very good seed in one, and the flavour wasn't the same. So everyone who tried it, all picked the Aussie avocado as being of a superior flavour and there was also more flesh."

The Hass season is underway in the east but the west is still a few months away. The last estimates put the Western Australian crop at a similar level as last season, but with winter to get through, those numbers are expected to firm up at a later date.

For more information:
Jennie Franceschi
Karri Country Produce
Phone: +61 8 9777 2246
Publication date: 5/31/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

Australian mango production hit record in 2017-18

The Australian mango industry achieved record volumes during the previous campaign and is set to see volumes continue to rise given the large number of trees being planted, ABC News reported.

The 2017-18 season saw over 10 million trays picked for the first time, with the Northern Territory and Queensland producing 48% and 47% of the national volumes respectively.

An increasing number of new mango trees maturing into commercial production was the main driver behind the record harvest, ABC reported.

Australian Mangoes CEO Robert Gray said newer mango varieties were making up an increasingly larger share of the national crop.

“The non-Kensington Pride varieties are really starting to be a much bigger contributor as those orchards that have been planted over the last 10 to 15 years start getting into full production,” Gray was quoted as saying.

“This is probably the first year that the combination of R2E2, Honey Gold, Calypso and Keitt contributed more than 50 per cent of the total production.”

He added that although volumes may fluctuate, total production is expected to rise over the next five years.

While both early and late season mangoes received good prices, an oversupply mid-season pushed prices down for some regions, he said.


Australian stone fruit producers taking advantage of new improved Chinese protocols

New protocols, and an improved growing season has helped the imports of Australian stone fruit into the Chinese supply chain increase 167 per cent in volume, compared to last year.

Summerfruit Australia says the figures, as of March 2018, recognise the addition of peaches and plums for the first time, after the industry gained access for all categories of stone fruit from November 2017, adding to nectarines, which started supply the year prior.

"Due to our protocol conditions and current limitations, our industry quickly seized on the new access for peaches and plums," CEO of Summerfruit Australia John Moore said. "Apricots are a very delicate fruit and will need more protocol improvements to successfully deliver first class quality to Chinese consumers. With nectarines in the second year of access, there was a significant increase in exports due to a much improved growing season over 2016/17."

He adds that the late announcement in 2017 for access of peaches, plums and apricots was very much welcomed, by both Australian producers and Chinese customers.

"Detailed surveillance of the key Chinese markets - Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing - heard positive feedback of quality, price points and consumer satisfaction for eating quality across the spectrum of nectarines, both yellow and white flesh; peaches both yellow and white flesh; and the spectrum of plums, inclusive of sugar plums," Mr Moore said. "The Australian Summerfruit sent to China this season re-established our distinguishing quality factor, eating characteristics and freshness over southern competitors.”

Summerfruit Australia's General Manager for Intellectual Property and Business Development Rowan Little says overall the season was an improvement in terms of timing and fruit quality on the year prior. Early fruit was almost two weeks earlier than the year prior which proved a good introduction into the season.

"I think the general consensus was that peaches were in heavy supply which resulted in some low grower returns," Mr Little said. "Nectarines were in good supply but not in over production. Plums were a little lighter than the previous season while Apricots returns were overall slightly lower."

The main challenge from a quality perspective was early season frosts in most districts and a few hail events which primarily affected the Cobram district. Other than that a few rain events had impacts at various times but overall the summer growing season was good.

However, Mr Little says domestic demand was relatively flat, but flavour and fruit size remain the primary drivers of domestic consumer demand.

"Nectarines continue to dominate the Australian domestic market in terms of volume of sales," he said. "In this space, yellow nectarines are also preferred over white. Sales were strongest for nectarines through January. During this period demand off shore for large white nectarines was also strong though grower returns were only average. Nectarines performed much better in China than the year prior with better fruit flavour driving demand and increased volume. Formal access for Plums and Peaches was not granted until mid-season, but with the benefit of a full season of access in 2018/19 this situation is expected to improve."

For more information:
Summerfruit Australia
Phone: +61 2 6041 6641

Publication date: 5/28/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

Australian Hass to Japan approved for access

Hass avocados from Australia can now be officially exported to Japan from fruitfly-free regions
On May 23, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officially declared export access to Japan for Hass avocados.

The avocados must be grown in specific zones, meet the “hard mature” condition, and be sent from Department of Agriculture accredited packhouses and growers.

The source regions are strictly limited to officially recognised areas free from Queensland fruit fly: Western Australia, Riverland (South Australia) and Tasmania.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed with Asiafruit that there is no cold treatment protocol as part of the access.

In the coming weeks the department will release an official call for applications for accreditation.



Author: Camellia Aebischer

E-retail, not e-commerce: China’s fast-changing online market for fresh fruit

In China the question isn’t whether you sell online but how. In the fruit trade it pays to understand the nuances of various e-commerce platforms, so much so that Frutacloud CEO George Liu believes ‘e-retail’ is a better term for the phenomenon which is sweeping its way towards 20% penetration in the fresh produce market.

“If you do business in China you have to use WeChat,” said Liu early on in his presentation at the Global Cherry Summit in Chile last week.

For the experienced China hands Liu was merely stating the obvious but for others his comment was likely a wake-up call to get accounts with the service, which is like Facebook meets Whatsapp with a digital payment element as well.

And in modern China digital payments have become the norm. Liu highlighted there were now 731 million Chinese citizens on the internet, which is more than the United States and India combined. Of these people, 70% make regular payments online.

“And with many of these Chinese internet users, they first went online through their mobile phones,” Liu said.

“A lot of these people don’t have email accounts. So we call these people mobile digital natives – they conduct their daily lives through mobile apps.

“It is very common in China that the small merchant will only accept digital payments.”

He said this evolution meant shopping habits could be tracked, analyzed and charted.

“This gives a huge advantage to those people who hold the data. Here’s another thing for consideration – the national disposable income growth has been increasing every year,” he said.

“Some of you may have heard that GDP growth is slowing down in China, but I think this [disposable income growth] is a better indication of the overall growth in China.”

Liu pointed to a 9% growth rate in the national resident disposable income level last year, up from 8.4% growth in 2016.

“Such high growth of income is what you would call the consumption upgrade,” he said.

“Consumption upgrade means that Chinese people with money now want to buy better food, they want to buy imported product instead of domestic, and they want to buy fresh fruit instead of mass-produced junk food.

“This is wonderful for the Chilean cherry industry.”

The disposable income growth measure also helps for understanding opportunities in the interior. It is now common knowledge that fruit exporters need to break through the first tier cities, but Liu made a deeper argument than the sheer business case.

“The disposable income here is rising faster compared to the first tier cities, and the housing cost is more affordable so people have more money to spend on other items,” he said.

“In the past one of the obstacles in developing market share was the lack of cold chain logistics, but now many players including us are investing heavily in the distribution network.

And while in the first tier cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen there are around 78 million people, Liu emphasized the population in second tier cities was around 236 million.

A brief summary of China’s e-retail platforms

Liu broke down China’s e-retail market into four broad categories that have evolved over time. The original of these is ‘comprehensive e-commerce’, dominated by Alibaba’s and Tencent’s

Both these companies incidentally own or have connections to various alternative e-retail platforms as well as conventional retail, with notable examples being Tencent’s partnership with Walmart in China as well as investments in Fruitday.

“However I think this type of [comprehensive] e-commerce is getting very saturated. Growth has slowed down and also the delivery and packaging costs for this type of e-commerce, especially for fresh fruits, are very high,” Liu said.

He said these services tended to use third-party providers like DHL, with the cost of using a box, a bag and including ice packs making up approximately 30% of the final selling price.

The second category is known as ‘vertical fresh produce’, involving players like Benlai, Fruitday and Missfresh which “don’t sell anything else except fresh product”.

“Usually they build their own logistics system to deliver better fruit to the customer,” Liu said.

Vertical integration requires heavy investment in cold chain logistics and warehousing, according to Liu, so players in this space tend to focus on specific geographies, such as Missfresh in the north and Fruitday in Shanghai.

“They’re facing similar challenges including high building costs, high packing costs so a lot of them are diversifying through acquisition in traditional retail, or they invent something new like a self-service kiosk,” he said.

The third type of platform is ‘fresh specialty O2O’, which stands for online-to-offline.

“Here there are two leaders. Pagoda and Xianfeng combined have about 4,000 stores in China. These stores are small and close to residential areas, so in such close proximity they can deliver fruit to their customer within an hour,” he said.

Liu described the final category as ‘new retail’, including such outfits as Hema, 7Fresh and Super Species.

“This was started only three years ago by Hema Fresh, which is also owned by Alibaba, and this is no doubt the hottest and most competitive retail space in China,” he said.

“I think there are three key aspects that differentiate new retail from the regular supermarket – first these stores are built from the ground up to support online development.

“They often have a unified imagery management system and some mechanism to support fast pick-up from within the store. Second of all they place a big focus on fresh product and shopping experience. Fresh produce will usually account for more than half of the floor space.”

But in Liu’s view the most important aspect of new retail is that you can only make digital payments, and the experience serves as a hook for mobile digital natives.

“Together with all the data they have about you they can give you the most personalized suggestions,” he said.

“The eventual goal for all the ‘new retail’ is for you to first experience in store but then for the repeat purchase to go through your mobile phone.

“You place an order on your mobile app and somebody in the store will pick up all your products, put it in a little bag, and it will be transported to one of these guys on a bike or a motorbike outside to deliver to you.”

Liu said the model required a lot of capital investment, which is why most of the players involved are large companies.

“In the U.S. people have heard big news about Amazon buying Whole Foods but this has happened on a much bigger scale in China.”

Cherry industry must get quality right at the farm level, urges Aussie grower

A leading Australian cherry grower has called on the industry worldwide to lift quality from the very start of the supply chain, emphasizing that a “packing shed is not a hospital” where fruit can just be fixed up post-harvest.

Speaking at the Global Cherry Summit last week, Tim Jones of Wandin Valley Farms told attendees standards would need to be high and logistics improved for the international market to handle the increase in volume that’s on its way.

“For me there has been an absolute strong message here for us, not just for our business but as an industry. We’ve heard the word ‘quality’ mentioned and we’ve heard the word ‘taste’,” Jones said.

“I think as a farmer, as a cherry grower, we have to really listen to those things, because if you look at the Chinese market where it’s more and more going online, the consumer is not going to get the chance to go and pick those cherries from a retail outlet.

“The first time they see those cherries is when they open that box and they look in there, and their expectations with cherries are very high.”

Jones was part of a small Australian contingent at the conference, which also included representatives of major Tasmanian cherry producer-exporter Reid Fruits.

“I’m also a firm believer in getting things right at the farm. We have a fairly small packing facility in comparison to some of the big guys in the States or in Chile, but a packing shed is not a hospital and we can’t fix up things in the packing shed,” he said.

This recommendation is for all growers but will be of particular relevance to Chile, the world’s top exporter and a country that is expected to double its volume within four or five years.

“It’s very very difficult if you’re not set up as an industry, in any country, to deliver good fresh produce generally,” he said.

“But for cherries it is a different thing to grow and move, and get to the consumer in the right shape. We have to really look to the future how we’re going to handle them.”

Wandin Valley Farms has orchards in northern Victoria as well as in southern Tasmania, a state that like Chile enjoys a fruit fly-free status. While there has been a recent outbreak in the state’s north, the source has been found and there is a confidence in the industry that the pest will be eradicated.

Jones also gave a brief summary of Australia’s unique growing conditions to attendees at the international event.

“Firstly it’s my pleasure to be here in Chile. It’s my first visit and I’ve met some superb people,” he said.

“We’re farmers ourselves, and one thing I can see is that we all have very similar things in common.”

But with regards to Australia, he highlighted most of the country’s cherry production was in hot areas.

“We have two specific areas of production; one is based on the mainland of Australia and the other is based in Tasmania,” he said.

“Those growing regions cross just slightly and the other thing we have which is quite different, which many people may not be aware of, is the Australian mainland has some nasty pests and diseases that stop us from supplying many areas around the world.”

More specifically in the cherry industry, this means Queensland fruit fly in the eastern states and Mediterranean fruit fly in Western Australia.

“Whereas Tasmania, they are classed as a pest-free state and this pest freedom status is very valuable to them as it allows them to access many markets, where from the mainland we cannot access,” he said.

“That is changing over time, as our industry develops much closer relationships with our government who then undertake various negotiations with other countries.

“Unfortunately, that takes a long process to negotiate new ways to trade, but as far as Australia goes, we’re very small in world market scale. We only produce 20,000 [metric] tons, which is very small in comparison to Chile or Washington or many places in and around Europe.”

But he did however highlight Australia’s benefits in the category due to “strong air freight capability” out of eastern Australia into Southeast Asian markets.

“Our focus is very much on freshness, and Australia is in a tremendous position because we have got fantastic growing conditions in our country,” he said.

“We may have a very small population but we get a lot of sunlight and it’s very clean air, and we are capable of producing high quality cherries, also high quality grapes.

“We are quite well-known around the world for having sweet grapes and of a high quality, and the one thing we’re extremely focused on as an industry is, from our own industry’s and companys’ perspectives, we are very focused on varietal choice.”

Seeka's Australian operations growing by the year

Continued investment in orchards, and post-harvest infrastructure with a focus on producing a better quality product has helped Seeka Australia create strong demand for its kiwifruit.

Seeka Australia commenced harvest and packing for its green kiwifruit season in early April, and Sales Manager Cameron Carter says it has been going well, with good volumes of kiwifruit been picked, packed and dispatched for customers.

"The growing period has seen plentiful amounts of sunshine, with minimal rainfall," he said. "While our forecasted volume for the season is down slightly from last year, we still have a good crop ahead of us. The taste of the fruit is exceptional, and it has been a very good kiwifruit vintage year in Australia."

Mr Carter added demand is strong because Seeka has focused on presenting and delivering our consumers a better quality fruit.

"The market has responded to the better Seeka quality with more demand and Seeka has invested in additional orchards to meet that demand," he said. "The team at Seeka Australia works tirelessly in growing, harvesting, packing and distributing its produce, providing a fully integrated orchard to market service, to ensure we are the best in class, delivering on our company vision of being Australia’s premier produce company."

The bulk of Seeka's current production in Australia is centred around Hayward green kiwifruit, with only trial areas of new varieties.

"There are of course a range of other kiwifruit varieties becoming available in Australia," Mr Carter said. "Seeka is evaluating new varieties in all categories that we grow including nashi and European pears. There are exciting prospects."

Seeka's main market for our Australian kiwifruit is domestic sales, with the company realising it needs to invest in additional capacity to meet the increased supply and demand, but it is not quite at that point.

"In the meantime we have initiated an expanded export program to match the crop to capacity and the exported fruit to existing customers have gone extremely well," Mr Carter said. "We are always looking at and thoroughly exploring any opportunities that present themselves and fall within our overall strategy."

The company's nashi pear harvest ran from January to March this year, and Mr Carter has praised his team for growing and harvesting one of the best crops the company has ever seen from these orchards, both in volume and quality.

"Every crop we grow, including our nashi pears, are grown across our seven orchards in Bunbartha, 15 minutes’ drive from Shepparton, and part of the Goulburn Valley, often referred to as the ‘Fruit Bowl’ of Australia," he said. "Demand for nashi pears, is stable, with the majority of what we grow servicing our local retail and wholesale customers."

For more information:
Cameron Carter
Seeka Australia
Phone: +61 428 427 459
Publication date: 4/26/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

California stone fruit: less but more optimally-sized fruit predicted

Thanks to some seasonal effects including freezes and rain, there are varied reports about how the California stone fruit crop looks this season.

“The overall prospects for stone fruit this year are of a good crop for most of the season,” says Ken Barbic Senior with The Fresh Connection based in Lafayette, Ca. “But the overall crop is also diminished because of a freeze we had. And some commodities such as plums had a little less fruit set due to cool or wet weather during pollination time.”

Commodity breakdown
Plums: “In general, they’ll be light,” says Barbic Sr. “They were also a bit light last year.” Despite the lessened supply, sizing of the fruit looks good. “We’re expecting demand to exceed supply,” adds Barbic Sr., which could mean higher prices and less price fluctuation. There are also a few new varieties of plums which should take the season all the way into December. The estimated start for plums this season is the last part of May, with good volume by mid June.

Nectarines: “Nectarines are also going to be a bit shorter than normal,” says Barbic Sr. “But toward the end of May, they should get back to regular levels.” The first of the crop, the Honey May Nectarines, began last week.

Peaches: Peaches began this week. “We should have plenty of peaches and nectarines once we get through the first few weeks of the season,” says Barbic Sr. He also adds that the Southern U.S. and other states have more normal crops this year compared to last year, which could make for a more competitive domestic peach market this season.

Apricots: “There are a few varieties of apricots with very little crop on them and others that have a more normal crop,” says Barbic Sr. “Overall the crop is light but there’s still plenty of fruit available.” In terms of timing, apricots got the latest start to the season by starting some five to seven days late compared to last year.

Cherries: Cherries also began harvesting last Friday, although the volume is starting small. The timing is similar to last year’s seasonal start.

Good sizing
Barbic Sr. adds that while the overall crop sizing may be down, it may make for better fruit. “Usually less on the tree means a better-sized fruit so the quality should be good and the sizing in the range customers are looking for, whether it’s for an export or domestic market,” says Barbic Sr. Less on the tree may also mean less pressure on labor. “Less labor may be needed to thin out the trees in order to get that optimum sizing,” adds Barbic Sr.

Meanwhile, what remains concerning for California growers is transportation. “This includes the availability and allocation of the truck supply and transporting via trucks from the West Coast to the East Coast,” notes Barbic Sr. (Late last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ruled that trucks need to carry electronic logging devices or ELDs, a ruling which many growers say has had several financial repercussions.) “In many cases, it costs a lot more to bring a box of peaches from the West Coast to New York or Boston than it does to send a box of peaches to a place like Taiwan.”

For more information:
Ken Barbic Sr.
The Fresh Connection
Tel: +1 (925) 299-9939

Publication date: 4/26/2018
Author: Astrid van den Broek

Costa Group recognized for efforts in China

Costa Group has been announced as a finalist in the prestigious 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards.

Nominated for the Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverage, Costa has been recognised for its operations in China with its focus on the development of large scale berry fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) farms in Honghe and Xishuangbanna Yunnan Province.

Costa’s investment to date represents one of the largest by a foreign owned company in Chinese agriculture in recent years with land secured for further expansion as demand in the market grows.

Costa was nominated for the award due to the success of its agricultural developments in China based on a number of key factors including:
The introduction of high tech growing and management systems
Recognition of key national agricultural policies focusing on sustainable production and improvement in the economic and social well-being of the local population
A strong and harmonious working relationship with local authorities
Implementation of safe and healthy work practices

Paul Lai, Westpac’s Regional Head and Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking Greater China said, “Given its size and incredible pace of transformation, it’s fantastic to see these Australian businesses that have worked hard to get their China strategy right, reaping the rewards and propelling their business forward.”

The presentation of the 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards is to be made at a Gala Dinner in Shanghai on Thursday 17th May.

For more information:
Costa Group
Business Support Centre
275 Robinsons Road, Ravenhall
VIC 3023
T: 03 8363 9000

Publication date: 4/23/2018



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Australian Hayward kiwi for the European market

The Australian kiwi has a relatively short but also very successful history: pampered by the many Australian sunshine hours, it offers a consistent taste thanks to its high sugar content. Seeka Australia is one of Australia's premier fruit production companies, in particular for the Hayward Kiwi.

Bratzler & Co. has been working for years on expanding and maintaining direct producer relations around the globe. Focusing on just a few exotics, the fruit trading company is, among other things, using these partnerships to consistently further its value-added chain. “Seeka operates in the Goulburn Valley, the so-called 'Fruit Bowl' of Australia," said Thorsten Blasius, Managing Director Bratzler & Co. “The conditions are ideal there - plenty of sun, high temperatures and good soil provide us with the high sugar content and the extraordinary quality of these kiwis. The supply capacities of our partner are unbeatable with regard to the Australian market.”

Direct relationships create more possibilities

For more than 10 years, Bratzler & Co. has maintained an intensive and cooperative trading relationship with its Australian kiwi supplier and it has been heavily involved in the successful marketing of this high-quality kiwi in Europe. Since the beginning of this cooperation, Bratzler & Co. has been the exclusive partner for the marketing of this product in Europe. According to Blasius, these direct relationships are becoming increasingly important, especially in the premium segment. “The trade demands taste sensations. But it also wants a consistent product. This is only possible if everything fits during the production and we know all the ins and outs. Then we can optimally prepare through logistics, storage and processing. This, in turn, is only worthwhile if the amounts of produce justify the effort.”

Blasius also appreciates the Australians’ style of collaborating - uncomplicated and flexible. For example, retailers in Europe have the opportunity to put their own brand names on the kiwi’s, because these are unwrapped goods. At the right purchasing quantities, the integration of their own packaging systems in the supply process is feasible without much trouble. "With Seeka in Australia we are working together with a fully industrialized nation at our own level - much more is possible than with some other suppliers." So Bratzler & Co. still sees many possibilities for their customers in Europe.

Consistent quality & measurable good results 

Why the combination of merchandise volumes and industrial standards plays an important role for Bratzler & Co. is also revealed in the self-image of the company. "We have not been just a dealer for a long time, we are acting along the entire value chain and that starts with working in the field." But we also do a lot when the goods arrive at our warehouses. It is invaluable when I find a consistent product - then dry matter, Brix value, strength and internal defects can be identified much more accurately, which is valuable for the overall delivery. With near-infrared light (NIR) and other non-traumatic analysis methods, we are able to effectively separate ripe and unripe fruits. This way we treat our fruit carefully and sustainably, ensuring excellent quality for delivery," says Blasius.

Deliveries from Australia are typically expected from mid-May, this year in calibres 27 (115-125g), 30 (105-115g) and 36 (85-95g). Large quantities of Australian origin reamin in the market up until September. For a while now, the Australian Haywards have made a considerable contribution to Bratzler & Co.’s ability to supply kiwi’s year-round. "And they are of a particularly high quality," says Blasius, who is already looking forward to the next innovation of his Australian partner. "This year we will already receive first KIWI GOLD batches from Seeka. Starting next year, larger quantities are expected." It is obviously a cooperation that bears fruit on both sides of the world.

High modern protection nets are available to kiwi producers

For more information:
Bratzler & Co. GmbH
Weinweg 43
76137 Karlsruhe
Tel.: +49 (0)721 . 96185 . 22
Fax: +49 (0)721 . 96185 . 99

Publication date: 4/17/2018