INDUSTRY UPDATE

Along with Hortlink, don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s avocado grower page is an important source of industry info for levy payers. On it you’ll find:

  • The new Avocado Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, with an easy-to-read ‘at a glance’ version and the full PDF document. The SIP was finalised in April after close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders. It outlines priorities for strategic investment in the industry, and will be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the avocado Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the avocado SIAP, which most recently met on February 21 in Brisbane, and is due to meet again in coming months.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including the July 2016 to March 2017 financial operating statement, and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.

Any questions?

As well as the avocado grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the avocado program, on 0405 306 334 or at astrid.hughes@horticulture.com.au. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Claire Tindale-Penning.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Achieving more consistent yields of quality fruit in the Australian avocado industry (AV14000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for providing growers with the knowledge required to implement practices for more consistent high yields of good-quality avocados from year to year. It has a strong focus on delivering workshops and resources to growers.

What’s the latest update? Close to 30 workshops have been delivered by the project so far, including regional study group workshops and those run in conjunction with Qualicado workshops.

Presentations and other materials from each workshop are available through the industry’s Best Practice Resource (BPR) at bestpractice.avocado.org.au.

The project also:

  • Produces video resources. The latest video is a walk-through on planting avocado trees, after the project team received various reports of tree losses as the result of planting issues. Watch it here.
  • Delivers Avo Alerts. These are monthly reminders developed for each major production region, prompting growers about the orchard activities that should be considered in that particular month and the month ahead. All growers should receive Avo Alert emails, with the detailed resources behind them available through the BPR.
  • Produces content for other industry channels, such as the article on understanding irregular bearing in avocados published in the Summer 2017 edition of Talking Avocados.

Data management and quality innovation extension program (AV15004)

Status: Completed project, with activities to now be continued through new project Avocado industry and market data capture and analysis (AV16006)

What was it all about? Project AV15004, which recently wrapped up, was responsible for four key tasks:

  • Maintenance of Infocado, the industry’s price-monitoring program – with weekly and quarterly reports having been distributed to industry via Talking Avocados
  • Maintenance of OrchardInfo, the industry’s planting and production program – annual OrchardInfo reports are produced, with the 2016 data report distributed to industry, and a summary report to included in the upcoming winter edition of Talking Avocados
  • Maintenance of and addition of new modules to the industry’s Best Practice Resource (BPR), the online portal that includes training programs and other industry management content
  • Facilitation of the adoption of Qualicado, the industry’s data management and quality improvement program, including the running of Qualicado workshops in regional and metropolitan areas throughout the life of the project.

Hort Innovation contracted new project AV16006 in May to continue these activities.

Avocado industry minor use program (AV16002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the avocado industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The minor use program is also supported by the project Generation of residue, efficacy and crop safety data for pesticide applications in horticulture crops 2017 (ST16006) which, as the name suggests, is responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST16006 uses grant funds from the Australian Government’s Agvet program, which you can read more about here, plus some levy contributions.

What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at portal.apvma.gov.au/permits. Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up for free here.

National avocado industry communications program (AV15002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Strong communication initiatives are essential to ensure the Australian avocado industry remains up-to-date with the latest R&D, emerging information, trends and issues both in Australia and overseas. By providing a consistent flow of relevant information, this project aims to keep growers and other industry stakeholders in a position to make informed business decisions and best-practices changes, and to support industry competitiveness.

What’s the latest update? A number of communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • The industry’s quarterly Talking Avocados magazine, which is distributed in hard copy and uploaded to the Avocados Australia website, with all issues available here
  • Fortnightly e-newsletter Guacamole, which has recently been given a refresh under this project
  • The Avocados Australia website, which is used to house both industry and consumer information and has recently been updated under this project
  • Grower Update/industry notice e-alerts, as needed
  • Industry social media channels
  • Media relations, where required.

Investigating tree mortality during early field establishment (AV14012)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2015, this project is looking into fungal root-rots caused by species of the Nectriaceae family, which infect and cause destruction of roots of plants in the nursery. It is increasing the industry’s understanding of diseases causing tree deaths after out-planting, and providing practical management procedures for nurseries and growers to improve tree establishment and health in avocado orchards.

What’s the latest update? While no new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see the update at the time of last reporting here and will find the latest info in the next Hortlink.

Pest status and management of six-spotted mite (Eotetranychus sexmaculatus) in WA avocado orchards (AV15012)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2016, this project is investigating the six-spotted mite, an exotic insect pest that occurs in avocado orchards in the lower south-west of Western Australia. Six-spotted mite can cause avocado trees to shed leaves, predisposing fruit to sunburn and affecting tree vigour and subsequent fruit production.

The project will clarify the pest status of the mite in avocado orchards and will investigate its management, including the role of mite predators and, potentially, miticides. The project will develop guidelines for growers to protect their crops, monitor their orchards and take action.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last Hortlink (2017, edition 1), the project has produced a draft guide to help growers identify and monitor six-spotted mite, which remains available to download from Hort Innovation here.

With no new milestone report due since the last edition of this publication, revisit the last update here and look out for the latest update in a future edition of Hortlink.

Supply chain quality improvement – retailer point of purchase improvements (AV15011)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning mid-2016, this project will help boost the consumer experience with avocados at the retail level by reducing the percentage of damaged fruit available on retail shelves.

Currently, damaged fruit can represent up to 25 per cent of avocados on display. Research suggests this is largely related to bruising due to consumer and retailer mishandling, and to internal rots due to fruit being held in the supply chain for too long. Ripening practices and temperature management in the supply chain also play a role.

As part of a supply chain quality-improvement program that also includes Supply chain quality improvement – cool chain best practice guidelines (AV15010) and Supply chain quality improvement – technologies and practices to reduce bruising (AV15009), this project will work towards reducing fruit damage to no more than 10 per cent. It will work closely with retailer representatives to find solutions and deliver education and training programs and tools.

What’s the latest update? As per the last update in Hortlink (2017, edition 1) the project team continues to work towards the development of an Avocado Retail Toolkit for Australia retailers. It is expected the toolkit will have a range of delivery tools, including online training (using videos, digital workbooks and the like), electronic communications, and hard-copy resources such as charts and pocket guides for store-level retail staff.

Project activities continue to involve close consultation with a cross-section of Australian retailers, including the majors and multi-store independent retailers.

Supply chain quality improvement – technologies and practices to reduce bruising (AV15009)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project is tackling the key issue of avocado bruising at the end of the supply chain, at both the retail and household level – where previous research suggests the majority of bruising occurs. The project is:

  • Developing and testing technologies to reduce handling by retailers and consumers, including tools for identifying ripeness
  • Documenting best practice to prevent fruit bruising at the retail level, producing information materials for use in retail education
  • Investigating any relationship between disease and flesh bruising
  • Reviewing and documenting contributing factors to fruit susceptibility to bruising.

With bruising affecting consumer decisions to repurchase, the ultimate goal is to improve consumer and retailer satisfaction, strengthening consumption of and demand for avocados.

This project is part of a broader supply chain quality-improvement program also involving Supply chain quality improvement – retailer point of purchase improvements (AV15011) and Supply chain quality improvement – cool chain best practice guidelines (AV15010).

What’s the latest update? While no new milestone report was due in the period since the last Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see the last available update here and will find the latest info in upcoming editions of Hortlink.

Supply chain quality improvement – cool chain best practice guidelines (AV15010)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning during 2016, this project rounds out a supply-chain quality improvement program that also involves projects Supply chain quality improvement – technologies and practices to reduce bruising (AV15009) and Supply chain quality improvement – retailer point of purchase improvements (AV15011). Project AV15010’s activities will:

  • Increase the adoption of best-practice in cool-chain management and post-harvest handling across all sectors of the avocado supply chain, from orchard to retail
  • Help reduce the incidence of rots and other quality defects in avocados
  • Increase the awareness of factors that predispose fruit to quality defects across the supply chain.

What’s the latest update? The project continues to work towards the development of best-practice guidelines and materials for the industry. With no new milestone report due since the time of last reporting in Hortlink (2017, edition), look out for the latest update in the next edition, or revisit last edition’s information here.

Other R&D projects of note…

  • Horticulture trade intelligence reporting 2017-2019 (MT16011), a new project to provide easy-to-read and easy-to-act-upon trade performance information to Australia’s horticulture industry. Quarterly reports will be made available through the Hort Innovation website, with the first avocado report soon to be downloadable from the avocado  grower page.
  • Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005), which is delivering a nationally coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. The surveillance will enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions of honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The avocado industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Keeping Australian Avocados accessible to consumers 24/7 with an ‘always on’ approach, Hort Innovation’s marketing for the industry largely has a focus on digital and social media activities.

Social media and website

Regular social activity on the Australian Avocados Facebook (www.facebook.com/AustralianAvocados) and Instagram (@AustralianAvocados) accounts continues to generate discussion, engagement and inspiration around avocados. Fun facts, recipe ideas, tips, videos and beautiful imagery all help drive interest and, ultimately, consumption.

The Australian Avocados consumer website (www.australianavocados.com.au) also continues to feature recipe collections, how-to tips, health and nutrition advice and more.

Digital advertising

Running since March, the digital marketing and advertising campaign for Australian Avocados reaches consumers across the web, through desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets.

One of the campaign’s key elements involves 15-second and 30-second Australian Avocados video advertisements, which are run before and within streaming video content on premium ‘catch-up’ sites such as 9Now, Ten Play and Plus 7. These sites allow people to view programs they have missed on television, and are free to watch.

So far the videos are delivering strong results, with 98 per cent of people watching the 15-second ad through to the end, and 90 per cent of viewers receiving the full message of the 30-second ad – ‘completion rates’ that are above industry benchmarks. It is expected these great results will continue, as popular television shows such as The Voice and MasterChef now driving highly engaged audiences to the catch-up services.

Other digital activity includes the use of Australian Avocado ads, which are specifically targeted to people who are viewing or searching avocado-specific and avocado-related content online (eg: ‘healthy lunch ideas’). The ads drive people to the Australian Avocado website, to view avocado recipes, tips and articles.

Combined, this digital activity has so far been viewed by 1,743,000 people since the campaign began.

Buzzfeed activity

Buzzfeed is a popular online media site and in April a partnership with Australian Avocados was launched. Two articles on avocados have been posted, including:

In their initial couple of weeks, the articles had already been viewed over 79,000 times, with over 4500 of these views the results of consumers sharing the content in their own personal social media channels.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show

Running from April 6 to 19, this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show was attended by over 922,000 people – giving Australian Avocados a huge audience for its advertising at the event. This activity involved a combination of television commercial and static ads shown on the big screen in the main stadium (pictured below), banner boards in the stadium, and ads on 52 plasma screens around the show grounds.

On the big screen alone, 55 spots played the Australian Avocados television commercial over the duration of the show (with 27 of these spots being ‘bonus’ above what was paid for), as well as 336 static spots. Another 378 spots were on the banner boards in the main stadium, with 55 spots on the plasma screens – all well above what was contracted.


Easter Show - avocadosAustralian Avocados on the big screen at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April


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