LYCHEE LEVY INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

Lychee

INDUSTRY UPDATE

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

  • The new Lychee 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 lychee Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the lychee SIAP, which most recently met on March 16 in Brisbane.
  • 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 lychee grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes  is always available to answer questions on the lychee 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 Lead Graeme Yardy.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

US market access project (LY15001)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? With Australian lychees given the green light to enter the mainland United States in 2013 (with the exception of Florida), this three-year pilot program is working to open up this new export market. It involves a range of work, including:

  • Developing summaries on pests and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits
  • Developing pest monitoring guides
  • Sourcing and submitting packaging approval with relevant authorities
  • Grower registration and auditing.

What’s the latest update? The 2015/16 season represented the second year in the pilot program, with Australian lychees reaching American consumers for the first time. This came after compatible chemical availability issues experienced in year one of the program were addressed, with the approval of two more options for spraying US-registered blocks.

There were some considerations –  including a late start to the season in Australia due to a dry and unusually warm winter, and good domestic prices that initially slowed interest from US importers – however, two shipments representing a combined 2.5 tonnes of lychee were successfully made. The first was sent in December, and the second followed in February.

The project team reports that return to both growers who exported was slightly higher than the domestic and export prices at the time, and that the US wholesalers that received the first shipment was greatly impressed by the quality of the Australian product. The second shipment was directed at smaller independent retailers, and with more volume expected to be exported next season, the importer reported being confident that US supermarket chains will get on board.

Consumer feedback included that the colour and flavour of the Australian lychees was “amazing” and that the consistent eating quality was “first class”.

Going into the third year of the program, the Australian Lychee Growers Association project team will continue to look at ways to simplify the exporting experience to ensure more approved growers – including reviewing existing procedures and treatments to see if the US export protocol can be incorporated into current growing, spraying and grading standards.

Growers interested in taking part in year three of this initiative are advised to contact the Australian Lychee Growers Association.

Grower guides relating to export continue to be available through the Australian Lychee Growers Association, including information on pest and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits.

Treatment for mites on lychee fruit after irradiation for improved market access (LY16002)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Beginning earlier this year, this project is looking to remove a potential barrier to the export of Australian lychees to the US: the presence of common pest the lychee erinose mite (Aceria litchii). Irraditiaton rates in the current protocol for export to the US are not able to kill this mite, and higher rates would damage the fruit. As a result, this project is investigating alternative treatments to reliably control the pest, such as post-harvest paraffinic oil dips or fumigation approaches.

What’s the latest update? The project is a short one, with research findings from the final report expected to be extended to industry in the next edition of Hortlink, when available.

Industry communication through Living Lychee (LY14000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Involving the production of journal Living Lychee, this project plays a vital role in keeping growers up-to-date with relevant information, issues and R&D work related to the industry.

What’s the latest update? Living Lychee continues to be published and distributed to the Australian Lychee Growers Association mailing list, with PDF versions available for download on the industry website, www.australianlychee.com.au.

This project also involves maintenance of the industry website, with the uploading of practical content, news and other key information for growers.

Lychee industry minor use program (LY16000)

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 lychee 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.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Hort Innovation is responsible for marketing activities to grow awareness and consumption of Australian lychees, using the lychee marketing levy.

The core focus of lychee marketing for this season was the ‘always on’ social media campaign, championing the ‘Love From Lychees’ theme. Both Facebook (www.facebook.com/AussieLychees) and Instagram (@aussielychees) continued to engage and educate consumers to drive awareness, appreciation and love of lychees.

Facebook

Facebook activity for the season concluded on March 14, reaching well over 1.34 million people with its ‘loving lychees’ theme and tapping into the emotional connection consumers have with lychees. In total, there were 286,000 direct engagements (likes, shares, comments) with the page’s content.

The season’s most successful post was a video showing how to peel lychees, which in the end reached over 225,000 people alone. You can still see the post here.

To drive consideration of lychees throughout the season, and resonate with consumers’ love for the fruit, there were also six ‘Me-Time Moment’ competitions run through Facebook. Participants were asked to describe their best ‘me-time moment’ with lychees, with winners receiving a voucher to buy lychees and an Ella Baché spa voucher. There were lots of passionate entries, ranging from photos, to poems and memories, with more than 3420 total engagements with the content.

Instagram

The Aussie Lychees Instagram audience grew by 55.5 per cent from beginning to end of the season, with 43 posts made and more than 19,320 people engaged with inspiring lychee images and messaging.

Also on Instagram, 14 social media ‘influencers’ across the food, health, fitness, parenting and lifestyle arenas were engaged to curate beautiful lychee content to share in their own channels. The content included serving suggestions, health benefits, and general lychee information and tips. The combined efforts resulted in lychee content being posted every three to four days from early January to mid-March, reaching some 615,860 people.

As reported in the last Hortlink, in addition to this activity there was the engagement of two popular ‘bloggers’, who distributed lychee recipes and other content via their websites and social media platforms, inspiring their audiences (a combined 900,000 people) to enjoy lychees in a variety of guilt-free, indulgent ways. The influencers, Jessica Sepel and Lilian Dikman, were picked as they resonate with the lychee target market, with their activity extending the lychee social media campaign over the season.

FACES OF HORTICULTURE

JILL HOUSER, GROWER & ALGA EO, QLD

Last year, Australian lychees hit United States shores for the first time, following market access approval to all states but Florida back in 2013. Jill Houser has been at the front-line of the new export process in her role as a producer and the executive officer of Australian Lychee Growers Association (ALGA). She says while it’s early, it’s pleasing to see the US already has a strong appetite for Aussie lychees.

Three years ago, when the Australian Department of Agriculture received word that negotiations to facilitate lychee and mango access to the US were successful, some growers breathed a sigh of relief. It was a win for the lychee industry, which was feeling the pinch of relying on sustaining good domestic market returns while maintaining the existing lychee export market.

For Jill, a Sunshine Coast hinterland producer, the announcement was welcome. She said while Australia produces up to 3000 tonnes of lychees annually, with the harvesting season spread over six months between October to March, local sales opportunities could fall flat.

“There have been many occasions over the years when large volumes of fruit have been harvested and sent simultaneously to the domestic markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, only to find that the markets could not sustain a good return to the growers on large volumes of fruit,” she said.

“Because of this, ALGA put a high priority on developing new export markets and maintaining existing export and domestic markets. Spreading our produce around will hopefully maintain strong returns for all lychee growers supplying high good quality fruit. “

Opening up the US market

After Australian lychees were given the green light to enter the mainland United States, an Operational Work Plan (OWP) was developed jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Australian Department of Agriculture.

Off the back of that OWP, and in consultation with the lychee industry, Hort Innovation is delivering a three-year project, using industry levies and funds from the Australian Government.

This project comprises the development of materials on pests and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits; sourcing and submitting packaging approval with relevant authorities; and – importantly – grower registration and auditing.

The 2016/2017 season was year-two of the pilot program. Jill said the first year was spent preparing industry for all the strict US import requirements. In the second year, there were some considerations including a late start to the season in Australia due to a dry and unusually warm winter, and good domestic prices that initially slowed interest from US importers. Despite that, and with the benefit of a couple of new chemicals being approved for growers taking part in the US program, 2.5 tonnes of lychees were sent to the US.

“The feedback from the US importers and consumers on the tasting and quality of the Australian lychee was positive and encouraging. Even though only a small number of shipments were successful, it does appear that importers are eager and waiting for the 2017/18 season to begin,” Jill said.

Going into the third year of the program, the ALGA project team will continue to look at ways to simplify the exporting experience for US-approved growers – including reviewing existing procedures and treatments to see if the US export protocol can be incorporated into current growing, spraying and grading standards.

Jill said the goal is to increase the number of shipments sent compared to last year. “This year it will be more important than ever to ensure our US registered and approved growers have as many resources to work with as possible,” she said.

Eye on the future

Jill said exports remain a big focus for the lychee industry.

“The US market may not be for all lychee growers, but more available export destinations will give growers the choice to export or to send domestic,” she said. “Safeguarding from oversupplying the domestic market and yet still making sure all our domestic consumers will continue to be supplied with fresh lychees is key.”

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries grow lychees but they are all counter-seasonal to lychee growing in Australia, Jill said.

“Lychees are not only enjoyed and loved by Australians but by Asian communities, so there is still a very large export market out there that needs to be investigated.”

Growers interested in finding out more about the US export program, and others, should contact the ALGA.

Grower guides relating to export continue to be available through the ALGA, including information on pest and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits.

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2017-06-29T15:27:50+00:00