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president PEAK productionFrom food fraud to growing methods and cost of living impacts, the vegetables industry is throwing up some interesting challenges. Words Dan Kuzmicich, vegetablesWA president SPRING has arrived, bringing with it beautiful weather and a warm greeting to valued members, stakeholders and fellow industry enthusiasts. In Carnarvon, the season is in full swing. Many growers are in peak harvest, which will likely continue until just before Christmas. While we have maintained a reasonable supply of vegetable products, market demand has been somewhat sluggish. Prices have been stagnant throughout the season, with one exception – cucumbers. Unfortunately, there’s been no sign of a shift in market demand, likely due to rising living costs. Biosecurity concerns are looming. Aphids are a constant concern and red-legged mites are becoming increasingly active. Carnarvon has experienced much rainfall this year and we all know that means an influx of weeds and biosecurity challenges, particularly insect pests. Overall, the quality of vegetable products emerging from Carnarvon has been good. However, tomatoes have suffered from the excessive rainfall, resulting in watermarks. I’ve personally observed a significant quality difference in tomato production between shade houses and open-field cultivation. The former exhibits a glossy appearance with minimal blemishes, while the latter often yields fruit with a dull complexion and marks from wind-blown leaves. Having experienced both methods, I can say that shade house production surpasses open-field production in terms of quality. I can also advise that to elevate your produce, consider implementing bio-mineral growing practices, which can yield surprisingly favourable results. A fellow Carnarvon grower approached me a few weeks ago with concerns regarding potential food fraud. His concerns were valid and the problematic product was removed from shelves. However, no written apology was provided. vegetablesWA is actively engaging with this grower and has met with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to report this case. Any growers who have concerns related to food fraud, contact us. Currently I am preparing for my Freshcare audit, which is scheduled for early October. And, lastly, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any concerns you may have. “ In my two decades within this industry, I can’t recall a year as busy and demanding as this one”