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Season updatePOMEWEST: Gold Sponsors of the Donnybrook Long Table Lunch promoting local produce and supporting growers in the region.Apples and pears featured on the Donnybrook Long Table Lunch.BY NARDIA STACY EXECUTIVE MANAGER, POMEWESTAgain, it’s the time of the year for reflection, festivities and preparation for the upcoming 2023 harvest period.
In this report, as in previous years, we look to measure the wins and challenges of 2022 and how we are tracking objectives in the second year of the WA Pome Industry 2021–25 Strategic Plan.
In general, we are tracking well against the outcomes of the three objectives of our five-year plan. Yields and pack-outs by all indications are travelling the right direction; Western Australia continues to be the state to beat for pome fruit prices and consumption! We hope that this reflects the improved quality results of our testing program, because good taste profiles keep our customers happy and consistent in their purchasing habits. We have been running a few major marketing campaigns such as ‘an apple for everyone’, ‘an apple a day’ and ‘good things come in pears’ — which has shaped our key messages during recent promotional activities. These messages remind everyone pome fruit is the original and reliable snack choice for good human health.
Objective 1 and 3 improving productivity and profitability
Two of the key objectives of the plan focus on productivity and profitability for pome growers. Sales based on the information from Harvest to Home from the Hort Innovation website indicate that WA continues to outperform the other states. WA annual household purchases are holding — the value for apples sits at $78.85, which is in line with Objective 1 ($75 spend/household/year), and pears are currently at the value of $20.76 and in line with Objective 3 ($20 spend/ household/year).
Western Australia continues to be the state to beat for pome fruit prices and consumption!Objective 2 — building exports to 15% of our total production within 5 years
ANABP 01Awill be the varietal flagship for WA apple export growth. Australian exports for this variety marketed as Bravo ®have grown by 270% on last year with increased supply to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the UAE. This result is boosted with the announcement of the new international trademark Soluna™ for the ANABP 01 Avariety. This variety holds the key to build markets for both local and Australian growers who are licenced to grow this apple and potentially enjoy some export success, as this variety of apple can enter export markets that were not possible under the Bravo ®brand. We have been creating partnerships generate returns for the local industry with global growth.
Pomewest is one of the major sponsors of the upcoming WA Apple Variety and Innovation Conference in late March 2023.
We hope this will attract international partners and buyers to the beautiful growing regions in the Southwest of Western Australia to further build export opportunities and promote varieties released by our breeding program. This event will be a celebration of the WA apple industry assisting our global presence.
Other activities, defined by the committee for this year, fit within the tactics in the plan and listed as follows:
1 Promoting commercially available cost-effective new technologies to drive productivity improvements. Project Manager Susie Murphy White has successfully delivered the WA Future Orchards ®orchard walks, resulting with tremendous attendance at each walk. She has also introduced, with funding from the Donnybrook Orchard Improvement Group, the Pomewest and WA Stone Fruit the RIMPRO decision support system and weather station to combat disease and pest management.
A Research and Development Plan has been developed to maximise orchard productivity and lower the cost of production for our growers. This also supports the crop load assessment technology in partnership with DPIRD.
2 The management of our increasingly complex biosecurity issues. This year our team has completed a comprehensive WA Pome Industry Biosecurity Strategic Plan, which updated the WA priority pest list. We contributed to the BAM Act review submission and continue to develop our relationships with the regional biosecurity groups and DPIRD. In early 2023 we will be rolling out on-farm biosecurity workshops, which will include farm packs, to develop a robust method of preparedness measures for future pest or disease outbreaks.
3 Market development — working with stakeholders to develop exports. We have attended and facilitated Apple Project Reference Groups and export preparedness workshops, which defines opportunities for levy-based funding to support apple co-promotion activities in early 2023.
4 Engagement with the Apple Breeding Program. We have been involved with demonstrations at the Nannup Food Bowl Careers Day, to support the new varietals coming out of the program. This will be ongoing in 2023 with industry support for new varietal considerations for commercialisation.
5 Working with stakeholders across the supply chain to ensure consumers consistently receive quality fruit. Our quality program is tracking well. We have excellent results, particularly in retail, with only 4% fails of 246 samples. This indicates the picking/storing practices in 2022 have been good. As a further example, at the time of writing this report, overall percentage of fails in wholesale/retail this year is 4% after 396 samples being tested — compared to 2019 16% fail rate with 330 samples.
1: Event hosts Vanessa and Sam Licciardello.
2: Guests getting into the spirit of the day.
3: Host Committee member Sam Licciardello, Nardia Stacy, Susie Murphy White and Chair Jason Jarvis, Pomewest.
6 Cultivating more production relationships with key stakeholders.Pomewest staff and Committee representatives now hold positions on most of key stakeholder’s boards, and strategic investment panels for R&D and marketing. This strategy has been orchestrated to ensure that WA has a strong and loud voice in the national arena. We have been proactive in representing WA pome growers at all the national industry updates, conferences and field days. Once again, facilitating the annual state and national dinners with updates and field activities to support the industry. We continue to support the Agricultural Produce Commission in its endeavours to enable industries to secure grow prosperity through ongoing value for fee for service investment.
7 Events and industry representation. Since the last edition, we supported two events to promote local produce to consumers. The Donnybrook Long Table Lunch, organised by the Donnybrook Food and Wine Committee, and the Perth Royal Show. Both events were extremely successful in providing a platform to promote and educate the consumer about the WA industry, our growers, and our WA varieties.
Pomewest are keen to continue and build our support of the regions and growers of the industry in 2023 as well as value added products, by being a proud silver sponsor, guest speaker and assistant of the Auscider 2023 Conference in the Perth Hills, and our involvement in the upcoming Donnybrook Apple Easter Festival in April 2023.
As well as being proactive in raising awareness in industry issues and supporting growers to access assistance, we have managed to disseminate this information via communication platforms to growers on a very regular basis via newsletters, SMS messaging and publications. This year the Pomewest website was updated to include a specialised grower information tab for closed industry information.
We feature articles which report the results Susie’s Future Orchards®trial comparing harvest picking systems, the outcomes from our biggest promotional activity at the Perth Royal Show by Noelene Swain of Fresh Finesse and the launch of the new international trademark for the WA bred ANABP 01 Avariety — Soluna™.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and bright and prosperous 2023. I know I speak on behalf of our Chair Jason, Committee, Susie and myself in saying it been a pleasure to serve the industry in 2022, and we look forward to achieving even more positive outcomes in the new year.