Apple and pear

See how the apple and pear levy is hard at work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project name below to go straight to a specific update. Also look for the ‘ACT NOW’ tag to easily identify project resources ready to use.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear R&D or marketing levy and, in the case of R&D, contributions from the Australian Government. In some projects, additional funding sources are also used.


Don’t forget to grab the Apple and Pear Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Apple and Pear Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Apple and Pear Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

 Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for apple and pear levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • Key documents including the Apple and Pear Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Apple and Pear Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the apple and pear Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met across September 18 and 19, 2017 in Melbourne, and is due to meet again during March 2018
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Mark Spees is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Apple and Pear Fund program. He can be reached on 0439 574 173 or at



An integrated pest, disease and weed management program for the Australian apple and pear industry (AP16007)

Status: New program

Key research providers: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about? This new program was contracted by Hort Innovation in October to improve the ability and capacity of growers to develop and maintain pest-resilient farming systems using integrated pest management (IPM).  It will provide clear knowledge on the tools and systems required to implement IPM, which involves the effective combination of chemical, cultural and biological methods to control pests, diseases and other undesirables in a ‘whole of system’ approach. It will also provide support in adopting these tools and practices.

Specifically, the project team will be responsible for revising the industry’s existing IPM Manual to put a greater focus on the integration of management practices that optimise monitoring and management of pests and diseases. Regional differences in pests and diseases will also be taken into consideration, with the project delivering region-specific guidelines and training for growers and advisors.

What’s the latest update? With this program just getting underway, look for updates in industry channels and future editions of Hortlink.

Of note, this program was instigated by previous project A needs analysis for IPM R&D in the Apple and Pear Industry (AP15014), which reviewed the state of IPM in the apple and pear industry and found that. At the time, this research found that while there was a high level of awareness and availability of necessary tools, adoption of true IPM was low – while 86 per cent of growers surveyed said they were using IPM, further investigation suggested that, by the technical definition, only 25 per cent actually were.

Apple and pear crop estimate (AP16002)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: AgFirst

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for producing apple and pear crop estimates for each season. Detailed crop estimates are designed to provide information on the size and quality of national crops that can then be used by growers, packers, marketers and the industry at large to plan more effectively and maximise the value of the crops.

What’s the latest update? At the time of writing, data collection for the 2018 National Apple and Pear Crop Estimate was well underway, with the project monitoring a panel of growers to estimate the current crop across the nation. Final crop estimates from this levy-funded project are distributed by APAL.

Australian apple and pear industry innovation and adoption program (AP15004) and Delivery of apple and pear Future Orchards extension program (AP15005)

Status: Ongoing projects

Key research providers: APAL and AgFirst

What’s it all about? Future Orchards! Beginning in 2016, project AP15004 and AP15005 deliver the apple and pear Future Orchards program, which is responsible for accelerating and expanding the adoption of innovation and technology in apple and pear businesses, and facilitating industry capacity-building.

Future Orchards is an internationally renowned technology-transfer program. It includes regular orchard field walks, orchard benchmarking, and orchard business analysis to deliver world’s best practice and R&D linkages to apple and pear growers in Australia’s major growing regions.

The program also aims to upskill the workforce, improve grower crop and business risk mitigation strategies, and provide grower services and technical support along the supply chain. It seeks to improve crop protection stewardship and chemical access, provide biosecurity preparedness, improve post-harvest productivity, and nurture technical preparedness for export.

Project AP15005 is specifically responsible for the technical delivery of the Future Orchards program. It covers the Focus Orchards network to demonstrate the adoption of best practice and new technology, Focus Orchard properties, OrchardNet, Orchard Business Analysis reporting and regional trials.

  • Look out for details of upcoming Future Orchard walks. Regular walks are held in each of the industry’s key growing regions and details are circulated in industry channels as they become available, including online here. For more information you can also contact APAL Technical Manager Angus Crawford on (03) 9329 3511 or at The role of Technical Manager is funded by Hort Innovation using the industry levy and Australian Government contributions.
  • Access OrchardNet, an online database allowing live business updates to be shared with managers, consultants, pack houses and exporters. It also tracks history, provides benchmarks and forecast performances, and houses data from Focus Orchards/orchard trials from the program.
  • Orchard Business Analysis is part of the Future Orchards program. It collects physical and financial data from orchards across the country to give a snapshot of the current industry, providing an opportunity to benchmark performance and review industry trends. Information is presented in Australian Fruitgrower, and you can contact Angus Crawford on (03) 9329 3511 or at for information on accessing Orchard Business Analysis reports.

PIPS Orchard Productivity Program (AP09031)

Status: Near-completed project

Key research provider: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

 What’s it all about? Originally this program was established to increase efficiency within and assist sustainability of apple and pear orchards. It was due for completion at the end of 2014, when a variation was granted to extend specific work into artificial spur extinction (ASE). As such, the current focus of AP09031 is on developing the ASE technique as a crop-load management tool for the industry. By selectively removing buds to imitate natural bud extinction, ASE can be used to precisely determine where and how much fruit is set on trees.

What’s the latest update? With the project due to finish up at the end of 2017, look for a complete wrap-up in the next edition of Hortlink.

At the time of last reporting in Hortlink, field and laboratory work in the project had been completed, with final data analysis underway. The researchers had been comparing trial trees undergoing the following treatments:

  • ASE
  • ASE + chemical thinning
  • Grower pruning + ASE
  • Grower pruning + ASE + chemical thinning
  • Grower pruning + chemical thinning (standard crop-load management)

Final fruit set, fruit drop, yield and fruit quality comparisons were being made.

Ahead of the project’s final report, some key early findings have been:

  • ASE is a suitable tool for precision management of crop load, without additional chemical thinning
  • ASE management isn’t weather dependent
  • ASE precisely spaces fruit for optimum light distribution
  • ASE-managed trees set more multiple fruit and achieved a higher percentage fruit set than conventional trees
  • Looking at Gala and Fuji, ASE-managed trees produced up to 30 per cent higher fruit yield in a typical flowering season.

Integrated pest and disease management – phase 2 (AP15001)

 Status: Ongoing project

 Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

 What’s it all about? This project follows on from the industry’s previous integrated pest and disease management project. The original work resulted in approval to import and release the Mastrus ridens wasp as a biocontrol agent against codling moth in apples, to supplement pheromone-mediated mating disruption of the moth. This second phase is responsible for the release of Mastrus ridens into sites in Southern Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria for study of the wasp’s dispersal, predation and hyper-parasitism. 

What’s the latest update? No official project update was due to Hort Innovation in the period since the last Hortlink.

At the time of last reporting, there had been 10 releases of wasps across sites in New South Wales (in Batlow, Orange and Young), in northern Victoria, in Grove, Tasmania, and in Stanthorpe, Queensland. The researchers were continuing to monitor the presence of adult Mastrus ridens, and predation of codling moth by the wasps at these various sites.

The project has also investigating the toxicity of pesticides to the wasps in the lab, looking at the two pesticides most commonly used to control coddling moth – Avatar and Altacor – as well as new pesticide Cormoran.

As reported in the last Hortlink…

  • Avatar was found to be highly toxic to the wasps, even at very low rates (0.25 times the registered field rate)
  • Altacor was not found to be toxic at rates up to four times the registered field rate
  • Cormoran had little effect at the registered field rate, but became moderately and then highly toxic at higher levels.

Work with other products will continue as the lab population of the wasps is grown.

 Profitable pears: maximising productivity and quality of new pear varieties (AP12002)

 Status: Ongoing project

 Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

 What’s it all about? Underway since 2013, this project is investigating management techniques and physiological mechanisms to increase the profitability of growing pears. It uses an experimental orchard (the Pear Field Laboratory) with new red-blushed pear varieties developed previously under the National Pear Breeding Program, and is investigating tree density, rootstocks, tree training, irrigation, root pruning, plant growth regulators and nitrogen requirements. Coupled with the experimental orchard is a fruit grader equipped with optical and near-infrared cameras to measure fruit quality.

 What’s the latest update? Look for the latest information in an upcoming Hortlink, but at the time of last reporting…

  • Results from last season showed pear canopy nitrogen status can now be reliably measured using reflectance. A small multi-spectral camera fitted to an unmanned aerial vehicle combined with appropriate data capture and analysis can provide growers with immediate %N of orchard blocks equivalent to previous leaf samples and laboratory analysis.
  • Parameterisation and validation of a model to estimate N fluxes in pear had been partially completed at the time of last reporting, and a draft fact sheet has been written on N fertilizer recommendations for pear orchards. Project publications, videos and upcoming events can be found on the Profitable Pears section of the Horticulture Industry Network here.
  • People were continuing to visit the Pear Field Laboratory, including local, interstate and overseas growers, service providers, students, policy makers and Agriculture Victoria executive. Particular interest had been in labour-efficient systems (including the suitability for robotics), factors that determine colour expression, and remote sensing for orchard management. These along with continued evaluation of tree density, rootstocks, training systems and plant growth regulators were to be considered for future R&D in the Pear Field Laboratory.
  • The Pear Field Laboratory was also used by Professor Luca Corelli Grappadelli (on a six-month sabbatical at Tatura) to study water and assimilate flux in pears. Several articles and presentations were made during Luca’s visit and they can be viewed on the Horticulture Industry Network website.

As well as the general resources on the Profitable Pears section of this website

Improved tree and fruit nutrition for the Australian apple industry (AP14023)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

 What’s it all about? Research into optimising nitrogen-use efficiency has the potential to boost productivity in apple growing. This project is developing a multi-season nitrogen budget underpinned by fertigation research, to in turn produce a user-friendly decision-support tool to assist growers across the country in optimising irrigation and fertigation application.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, there are a number of activities under this project, working towards a common goal. In a nutshell, work is focusing on validating an international research model for predicting tree water and nitrogen use (SPASMO), and then using this as the basis for the grower-friendly decision-support tool. This tool is being referred to as ‘SINATA’ – the Strategic Irrigation and Nitrogen Assessment Tool for Apples.

It is expected that the tool will ultimately allow growers to look up their soil type, local climate and tree information to determine average irrigation and nitrogen requirements, assess the efficiency of their current management practices, and explore potential savings associated with changes in irrigation and nitrogen application (such as switching from calendar-based irrigation schedules to targeted schedules based on soil moisture status).

Among its work, the project is continuing one of the longest-running irrigation/fertiliser trials in an Australian apple orchard, if not globally. Among recent observations, there is a cumulative effect of multi-season nitrogen application being seen, with fruit colour more pronounced in the 2016/17 season than all other years in the five-year trial.

With other trials and data collection ongoing, look for further updates in future editions of Hortlink and in industry channels.


To learn more about SINATA or provide ideas for the tool’s usability, contact Marcus Hardie from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture at

Physiological, metabolic and molecular basis of biennial bearing in apple (AP15002) and Physiological, metabolic and molecular basis of biennial bearing in apple – Australian component of AP15002 (AP15013)

 Status: Ongoing projects

Key research providers: University of Hohenheim, Germany (AP15002) and The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) (AP15013)

What are they all about? Biennial bearing is a major constraint to apple flowering and production, and it’s estimated that around 30 per cent of commercial cultivars are susceptible. While this cropping irregularity is usually managed by chemical, mechanical or manual thinning methods, the underlying physiological, metabolic and molecular plant processes are largely unknown.

Beginning in 2016, these two related projects aim to increase understanding of the mechanisms involved in biennial bearing and in turn why apple crops fail to develop sufficient flower numbers in the year after a high crop load.

What’s the latest update?

As part of international project AP15002, there are two field trails running:

  • One involving the Spencer Seedless cultivar, at the Horticultural Research Centre of the University of Hohenheim in Germany
  • One comparing a biennial cultivar (Fuji) to a non-biennial cultivar (Royal Gala), at the Centre of Competence for Fruit Cultivation near Lake Constance in the Alps.

The trials are designed to identify factors that either suppress or promote flower induction in apples, looking specifically at the roles of plant hormones (signals from developing fruit), gene expression and carbohydrates.

At the time of last reporting in Hortlink, plant tissue samples from 2016 were undergoing various types of analysis. One initial finding was that floral bud initiation is related to crop load, with ‘on’ trees having fewer floral buds than ‘off’ trees. Depending on variety and treatment in the trials, the transition time from vegetative to floral meristems in apple buds differed significantly.

Initial lab tests have also identified a range of metabolites (substances used in metabolism) in apple buds, including several known to influence hormonal signalling pathways that could play a regulatory role in flower induction.

As part of the Australian component, project AP15013, there are field trials in a commercial orchard setting in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Here there is study of biennial cultivar Nicoter (Kanzi) and non-biennial cultivar Cripps Pink (Pink Lady), similarly looking at the effect of gene expression and metabolic signals on flowering, in response to plant resources, plant development, cultural practices and environmental cues.

As reported in the last Hortlink, the postgraduate program at the University of Queensland has been involved in regular tree imaging to identify and analyse aspects of flowering, fruit set, growth and canopy size during the growing season, while climate data collection from the orchard will also be ongoing.

Variety evaluation and tree certification services for the apple and pear industry (AP16004)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program

What’s it all about? This investment supports the operation of the Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) and so delivers essential infrastructure and information related to the evaluation of new varieties and the certification of trees propagated from high-health-status materials. It runs new-variety demonstration sites and will also run initiatives including New Varieties Roadshows.

What’s the latest update? Still in its initial stages, the main focus of the program has been planning new variety demonstration sites, and maintaining and monitoring activity at existing demonstration sites in Stanthorpe and Lenswood, looking at the performance of certified versus non-certified trees.

Existing sites were established in 2013, consisting of 250 certified and 250 non-certified trees planted on M26 rootstock grown and managed the same. The program has been conducting basic comparisons around tree vigour, yield and packout between certified and non-certified trees.

Tree vigour observations were conducted through years 2013 to 2016/17, showing improved vigour and better tree consistency in certified trees. Fruit yield and packout observations were made with the first commercial-size crop in the 2017 season.

It is expected that the project’s first roadshow event will take place during 2018, timed to align with Future Orchards activities. Keep a look out for details in industry channels.

Apple and pear industry minor use program (AP16001)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Hort Innovation

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 apple and pear industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

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

National apple and pear grower communications program (AP15007)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: APAL

What’s it all about? This program ensures apple and pear growers are kept up-to-date with the latest industry news, information and R&D updates. Its ultimate goal is to support the industry as a whole to advance and grow, to allow informed decision-making in apple and pear businesses, and to facilitate the uptake of new practices, technologies and information.

What’s the latest update? The project continues to produce and maintain key communication channels for the industry, including but not limited to:

The project is also involved in the production of media releases, delivering media training to industry representatives, maintaining an industry photo library on image-sharing service Flickr (available here) and produces ‘hot topics’.


Check out the regular project outputs above, and if you aren’t already, subscribe to Industry Juice via APAL here.

InfoPome 3 (AP15008)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: APAL

What’s it all about? InfoPome is the apple and pear industry’s stock tracking system. Cool-store data is voluntarily provided by growers and collated into national reports of the amounts of apples and pears in cool-store by month. The reports are separated by

variety and state, allowing growers to see stock levels currently available in storage. Supply of this data (and analysis reports drawing out critical messages) allows informed decisions about sale prices and volumes to be sold.

What’s the latest update? Weekly, automated InfoPome reports continue to be produced as usual and are available to those cool stores that have contributed to the data collection. The reports provide a timely snapshot of the stockholding status nationally, by state and by variety. To supply data, cool stores receive automated SMS and/or email messages containing links to enter their stocks. A free InfoPome app is also available for iOS and Android.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Horticulture trade intelligence reporting 2017-2019 (MT16011), which is responsible for providing easy-to-read and easy-to-act-upon trade performance information to Australia’s horticulture industry. Quarterly apple and pear reports are made available for download here, in the resources section of Hort Innovation’s Apple and Pear Fund page.
  • Independent program coordination for apple and pear productivity program (AP14022), which supports the coordination and integration of a number or projects, which together make up ‘PIPS2’ program for the industry (the second iteration of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils program). PIPS2 projects include AP14023, AP15001, AP15002. AP09031, AP12002 and AP15013, as described above. Activities of the coordination project include improving communication within and between project teams and the apple and pear industry, coordinating linkages and activities between PIPS2 and the Future Orchards program, and more. Visit to see all PIPS2 activities brought together, and for links to relevant content and people.
  • Apple and pear industry leadership initiative (AP15015), which supports Apple & Pear New Horizons Scholarships for young people, to help accelerate change in the apple and pear industry. The scholarships are used towards the completion of a Diploma of Agribusiness at Victoria’s Marcus Oldham College. The 2017 scholarship recipient was Jack Bartels, who is currently working with Hansen Orchards in Tasmania, and whose studies will be further supported in 2018.
  • 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. It builds upon the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT12011), and includes upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators, the introduction of new elements such as Asian hornet screening and more. The surveillance is designed to enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The apple and pear industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
  • SITplus: Developing and optimising production of a male-only, temperature-sensitive-lethal, strain of Qfly, B. tryoni (MT13059), which is developing a ‘temperature-sensitive lethal, male-selecting’ strain of Queensland fruit fly (Qfly). To put simply, the research will allow for male-only, sterile fruit flies to be bred in large numbers. It is one of the key projects in the broader strategic co-investment SITplus initiative that’s tackling the issue of Qfly. The male flies are to ultimately be released in growing regions of south-eastern Australian that are affected by Qfly. They will come to outnumber the wild male population in these areas and by mating with wild females – and limiting the opportunity for wild males to do so – they are intended to lead to the collapse of wild Qfly populations. The apple and pear industry is one of several involved in the project.
Apple and pear levy investment in Hort Frontiers projects…  
What is Hort Frontiers?

Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, formerly known as ‘Pool 2’. It is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects that endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. Hort Frontiers projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government funding and co-investments brokered and managed by Hort Innovation. Co-investors range from research institutes to commercial partners, and can also include individual levy industries.

How is the apple and pear industry involved?

Apple and pear levy has been co-invested in the Hort Frontiers project Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001). This project is part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund, with the apple and pear levy supporting six scholarships across all key growing regions, for industry levy-payers to take part in the 2018 Masterclass in Horticultural Business course. The Masterclass is a unique offering designed to grow participants’ business and leadership skills – you can watch a short video on it and learn more here.

Applications for the 2018 scholarships were advertised in industry channels and closed in November.

The apple and pear levy is also co-invested in Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), a Leadership Fund project that is engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry. It has a two-phase approach designed to attract the right people, retain them and support their ongoing leadership development. The first phase involves students undertaking internships within horticulture business, for which funding support is offered for both the student and the business. The second phase involves employment of students following graduation, with Hort Innovation co-investing to support the first year salary and participation in a five-day leadership program.  Learn more in this case study with nursery business Fresh Leaf Herbs, who took part in the project’s pilot run.

If you’d like to learn more about how your own business can participate in the program, contact Rimfire Resources at or on 1300 380 701, and read more here. If you know a student who would like to apply for the program, they can do so at



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the apple and pear marketing activity into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption of the fruits, under the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund. Here’s a look at what’s been happening since the last edition of Hortlink.


Netball Australia sponsorship and PR

The Aussie Apples public relations (PR) program – developed through the industry’s ongoing Netball Australia partnership – reinforces for consumers the benefits of eating wholesome foods such as apples, and building a positive relationship with food. Recent activity has included:

  • Galaxy research on consumer attitudes to diets, food guilt and being healthy
  • This video bringing together Australia’s leading netballers and other women sharing their stories about food
  • This healthy eating guide for teen girls who play netball, by Aussie Apples campaign champions Dr Joanna McMillan and Netball Australia dietitian Kerry Leech.

This material was launched with an exclusive story in the The Herald Sun in September, which appeared as a full-page spread in print and also online, with a link to the healthy eating guide. Combined, this activity reached a potential audience of 1.5 million readers.

Following this exclusive activity, Hort Innovation pitched the story to online magazines and radio. Dr Joanna McMillan has subsequently been featured talking about apples and the Netball Australia partnership…

Joanna has also shared the research findings via her own onlineFacebook and Twitter channels.

Through the above coverage, the Galaxy research and partnership news has been seen by more than 600,000 people.

​Netball Australia has featured the nutrition guide in its Netball Tribe e-newsletter, and shared the video on its Facebook page, which has 41,000 followers.

Aussie Apples has of course also supported the guide and video through the industry’s consumer-facing Facebook page, with more than 310,000 views of the video to date. Engagement with the campaign material has been higher than the industry’s regular ‘always on’ social content, with targeting to audiences including those interested in netball and sports (representing 75 per cent of those who engaged with the content).

Materials have also been shared with leading media dietitians with a very positive response including social media referrals.

Other netball activity
  • Netball Victoria. As the official fruit supplier to Netball Australia, Aussie Apples supplied apples to Netball Victoria clinic events in September – a great way to get the fruit into people’s hands, and with information posted to the Netball Victoria Facebook page reaching over 5000 people.
  • NetFest. More than 2500 people flocked to the Gold Coast in October for NetFest, Netball Australia’s largest mass-participation event. The event was held at two locations which catered to beach and traditional outdoor netball competitions, as well as the newest format of the game, Fast5 netball. 2017 saw a record number of participants, with 292 teams from across Australia and New Zealand, as well as 165 umpires signing up for the four-day event. Aussie Apples had great exposure with ‘Get Your Crunch On’ signage, and umpires supplied with apples through the event.
  • Fast5 World Series. Nearly 9000 people watched on as the six best netballing nations took to the court in the Fast5 Netball World Series at Hisense Arena in Melbourne on October 28 and 29. Aussie Apples branding was showcased on LED screens, a pull through graphic, and a spread in the official match program.

Netball Australia’s main season has now ended, with planning underway for the 2018 season. With Aussie Apples TV advertising and sponsorship at televised games this season (reported in earlier editions of Hortlink), the good news is that Channel Nine’s Director of Sport, Tom Malone, has said: “Following on from last season’s amazing success, where the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final was broadcast on the main channel in prime time to a peak audience of just under 700,000, we will be giving netball an even bigger push in 2018.”

Look for details in future editions of Hortlink.

In October, a partnership between Woolworths and Netball Australia was announced, and work will be progressing on how to leverage off this, as well as how to continue to bring apples to life at the professional and grassroots levels of netball.

Aussie Apples at events
  • The Adelaide Royal Show. Aussie Apples supported this event, which was held in early September, with more than 443,000 people attending over 10 days. The Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA (APGASA) site included retail and promotion of fresh apples and pears, juices, apple and pear ‘slinkies’ and dried apple. Approximately 11,000 apples were sampled. The event also featured three 30-minute grower talks on the main stage.
  • The Perth Royal Show. Held in late September, this event featured a walk-through fresh food experience, with 15,000 Bravo apples sampled over the eight-day show. Some 3000 apple slinkies were also sold, and there were product presentations and cooking demonstrations across two main stages.
Social media activity – Facebook

The Aussie Apples Facebook page has continued to engage consumers with fun and quirky apple content – with the incorporation of popular culture into posts receiving very positive responses.

In September, the top-performing post was ‘The squad that crunches together stays together’, which made use of a widely circulated video of pop stars Beyonce and Nicki Minaj – altered to show them eating Aussie Apples. The content reached some 146,300 people, with close to 80,000 engaging with the piece.

Apple recipes and serving tips have also been performing well, including this ‘Apple Dippers’ post from September, which reached close to 132,000 people and showcased fun ways to serve apples at a party, and the top-performing post from October, which featured a recipe for serving apple ‘cookie snacks’.

Digital activity

Digital activity for Aussie Apples has involved 15-second and 30-second versions of the industry’s ‘Get Your Crunch On’ commercial shown ahead of video content in catch-up and connected TV services such as Plus7, 9Now and TENplay, as well as on premium publisher sites such as The Herald Sun, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

The best completion rates (where viewers have watched the ads through to the end) have been in catch-up and connected TV platforms, due to the presence of popular shows such as The Block, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and The Handmaid’s Tale. Demographic placements and food-related sites have also maintained a great completion rate during the campaign, even with the ads being skippable by audiences.

Award win!

In November, Aussie Apples marketing efforts were recognised by the annual Parents’ Voice awards – taking out two awards in the Parents’ Choice categories for marketing around food and physical activity. The awards recognised the positive influence and messaging behind both the Get Your Crunch On television campaign and the sponsorship with Netball Australia, and show just how much the activity is resonating with the families (parents voted Aussie Apples into the top spots).


New in-store sampling

Australian Pears in-store demonstrations kicked off in November, to help drive pear purchasing in the face of Australia’s pear glut. In-store stands with sampling began on November 23 in Coles stores nationally, with 133 of the supermarkets to have featured the demonstrations by December 8. At the time of writing, a similar number of Woolworths supermarkets in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were to host demonstrations from December 11.

These in-store activities have been designed to…

  • Increase awareness
  • Encourage trial of pears
  • Communicate key selling messages, seasonality and usage scenarios
  • Highlight where the products can be located in store
  • Leave consumers with a positive brand experience.
MyFoodBook partnership – 2017 wrap-up and new activity

From early in 2017 to October, there was an Australian Pears partnership with MyFoodBook ( – a recipe and cookbook community that includes more than 200,000 subscribers, and promotes recipes to more than 2.8 million people each month.

Throughout this time, pear recipes were hosted on the site (as well as being available at, with more than 270,000 consumer engagements with this content, and close to 2000 instances of pear recipes being converted to e-books by consumers. For Mother’s Day back in May 2017, a special-edition e-book was also released that showcased four Australian Pears recipes and ‘perfect pairings’ information, and was downloaded 23,500 times. MyFoodBook also featured pears in its ‘What’s in Season’ section, explaining how to cook with pears, pear varieties and how to choose the right pear.

There is a new partnership that began in November, which will be showcasing a range of new pear recipes and information educating consumers on pear ripening. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.

Event: the Adelaide Royal Show

This event was held in early September, with more than 443,000 people attending over 10 days. The Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA (APGASA) site included retail and promotion of fresh pears and apples, as well as juices and pear and apple ‘slinkies’ (the pear ones included Packham, Red Anjou, Corella, Beure Bosc and Josephine pears). More than 3000 pears were sampled over the event.

Facebook activity

The Australian Pears Facebook page is an ‘always on’ component of the industry’s marketing activity, that has traditionally been targeted to more discerning grocery buyers, with posts designed to remind consumers to cook with and snack on pears more often. The page has recently been running fun and quirky content that is proving very engaging, like this short video post that was the top-performing post of September, and this post featuring popular TV host James Corden dancing with a pear. Recipe posts, like pear sorbet, sandwiches, muffins, smoothies and salads, have also been featured.

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