From new projects to boost quality in the avocado supply chain to industry benchmarking, read about Hort Innovation’s funding of key industry projects using the avocado R&D levy in the R&D snapshot below. To see how the latest results of the industry’s levy-funded marketing activity, check out the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The avocado Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) met for the first time on October 20, and will convene again in December. Meeting summaries are available on Hort Innovation’s Avocado grower page.

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the SIAP has also recently been completed, with information on the chair to be made available on the grower page shortly.

The Strategic Investment Plan

A Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) is the roadmap that helps ensure levy investment decisions align with individual industry priorities. It is used to guide decision-making in levy spending, and represents a balanced view of stakeholders in the industry.

Hort Innovation is currently consulting with growers and other industry stakeholders to finalise new SIPs for each industry by the end of the calendar year.

To learn more about the SIP process, visit Hort Innovation’s SIP Portal.

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. 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

Australian avocado benchmarking program development rounds II & III (AV13003)

Status: Completed project

What was it all about? This was a continuation of the original Australian avocado benchmarking program development project. Its goal was to further the development of an industry database and benchmarking process to enable growers to identify and strive for Australian best practice in production, packing and marketing of avocados.

It involved the collection of data from 82 individual grower businesses over four consecutive financial years, the analysis of this data in each of the four years, the provision of individual personalised reports to participating growers each year, and the dissemination of aggregated high-level project findings to the industry at large.

Over the four years:

  • Participating growers recorded an average yield of 9.23 tonnes per producing hectare per year, declining by five per cent over the project period (median farm size was 10.5 producing hectares)
  • Mid-sized fruit accounted for 49 per cent of fruit sold, and premium grade fruit represented 70 per cent
  • Labour productivity over the period averaged 52 tonnes produced and sold per full-time employee equivalent (FTE) per year, declining by 24 per cent over the study period
  • Prices paid for fresh market avocados increased by 62 per cent per tray equivalent (5.5kg) sold.

The project outputs enable comparisons between growers based on a combination of location, business size (turnover, volume or tree numbers) and principal varietal type over multiple years – putting growers in a position to identify those areas that impact greatest on their productive and financial performance.

Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which is available to order at http://horticulture.com.au/about/resources-publications-final-reports (final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies).

 

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

Status: New project

What’s it all about? This project is set to tackle 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. It will:

  • Focus on developing and testing technologies to reduce handling by retailers and consumers, including tools for identifying ripeness
  • Document best practice to prevent fruit bruising at the retail level, producing information materials for use in retail education
  • Investigate any relationship between disease and flesh bruising
  • Review and document 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.

What’s the latest update? Having recently begun, the first formal update on this project is to be included in the next issue of Hortlink.

The project has links to two other newly contracted projects for the industry:

  • Supply chain quality improvement – retail and consumer education (AV15011)
  • Supply chain quality improvement – cool chain best practice guidelines (AV15010)

 

Data management and quality innovation extension program (AV15004)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This short project has four key areas, including maintenance of Infocado, maintenance of OrchardInfo, maintenance of the industry’s Best Practice Resource (BPR), and facilitation of the adoption of Industry Data Management and Quality Improvement (Qualicado).

What’s the latest update? Delivered through Avocados Australia, the following had been achieved at the project’s last reporting period:

  • Weekly Infocado reports, containing weekly retail price reporting, continued to be produced and distributed to industry, including through Talking Avocados. Quarterly reports were also produced and distributed
  • Annual OrchardInfo reports had been reviewed and distributed, with historical reports uploaded to the Avocados Australia website
  • A new export module for the BPR had been scoped and was to be completed shortly
  • Workshops were carried out between April and August 2016, with presentations and new material loaded to the BPR
  • Two videos relating to ripening and retail handling were scoped
  • Whole of supply chain studies were underway, with the project to be wrapped up at the end of the year.

 

Other R&D projects of note…

» Avocado rootstock SHSR-04 commercialisation (AV15005), a project for which, in October, an Expression of Interest process was begun for the selection of commercial partners for the development of rootstock in domestic markets.

» Achieving more consistent yields of quality fruit in the Australian avocado industry (AV14000), which aims to provide growers with the knowledge required to implement practices that will lead to more consistent high yields of good-quality avocados.

» National avocado industry communications program (AV15002), which continues to produce the Talking Avocados magazine and Guacamole e-newsletter, work on the Avocados Australia website and social media, and carry out media relations, among other work.

» Investigating tree mortality during early field establishment (AV14012), an ongoing project that is specifically looking into fungal root caused by species of the Nectriaceae family, which infect and cause destruction of roots of plants in the nursery.

» Pest status and management of six-spotted mite (Eotetranychus sexmaculatus) in WA avocado orchards (AV15012), a project that was contracted at the end of July 2016 to clarify the pest status of six-spotted mite in avocado orchards and their management.


avocado-spotted-mite

A six-spotted mite (left) and an example of damage caused by the insect (right) 


MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

To encourage the purchase of more avocados, more often, the marketing strategy for the industry involves the use of multiple communications channels to extol the flavour, health benefits and versatility options for avocados.

One of the key objectives within the strategy is to reduce the focus on price, which can be a barrier to usage, and build the versatility message instead, demonstrating more avocado meals ideas for different occasions and eating times.

Marketing activity also has a focus on continuing to educate consumers on choosing fruit at different stages of ripeness, and providing tips on ripening and storage at home.

 

Social media

Social media activity has had a continued focused on delivering great recipes across a number of meal occasions in both cooler and warmer weather settings.

With a highly engaged audience, there has been more and more user-generated content, recipe tips and/or improvements being shared in the comments section of posts on the Australian Avocados Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AustralianAvocados/), showing how much fans want to share how they love to consume Australian avocados.

During August, the social campaign reached over 850,000 people – almost double that for the same time last year. Of those 850,000 people, over 196,000 people ‘liked’, commented on, or shared the content.

Some of the best-performing content included a ‘Lemon Avocado Meringue’ video, which had over 120,000 total engagement.

The page’s next-best performing content was an ‘Avocado, Salami & Semi-Dried Tomato Focaccia’ ad, which put an Italian twist on a comfort food favourite, the toastie.

In third place, a ‘Beef Mince and Avocado Pizza’ made mouths water. By keeping with the ‘simple, delicious, droolworthy’ model, the post gave fans a delicious and filling yet extremely simple recipe with all of their favourite things… especially avocado!

September also had strong results in the social space, with October carrying on the trajectory.


facebook-activity

Posts on the Australian Avocados Facebook page that have driven strong audience responses


 

Television campaign

A month of avocado television promotion kicked off the week commencing September 18, running until the week ending October 15.

September and October are among the most exciting months for television, with all networks bringing out some of the years’ strongest programming.

In the first week of the avocado campaign, the ad was featured in The Bachelorette across all metro markets. It was also featured in the launch of X Factor in four metro markets.

The Case of JonBenet Ramsey was the strongest-performing program in September. Avocados featured in the first episode in every metro market, which ended up being the number one program of the night, attracting a total audience of 1,282,000 people.

Outside of the JonBenet program, The Block was the strongest general entertainment program of the month. It consistently rates as the number-one program of the night for the avocado campaign’s main demographic (grocery-buying women aged 25 to 49), attracting a nightly audience of around 150,000 each episode. The avocado ad regularly appeared in the show, with at least one spot in every metro and regional market.

Outside of these key shows, the campaign also regularly appeared in reliable programming including Nine News, A Current Affair and 60 Minutes, as well as appearing across relevant food-based programming across the SBS Food Network.

The TV ad is also running across premium catch-up sites such as TEN Play and 9Now. Video is also targeted at sites that are consistent with the strategy to influence women, parents and those seeking healthy lifestyle options. This part of the campaign is due to finish on November 17.

 

Online

Between September 22 and December 21 this year, publisher Totally Her is featuring Australian Avocados in a content series titled #NeedMoreAvocados. The series will be broadcast across a collection of female-centric digital properties including Mumtastic, She Knows and The Fashion Spot.

In the initial weeks of activity, high-impact homepage take overs have started driving a strong result.


mumtastic

Australian Avocados taking over Mumtastic


 

As part of the Totally Her package, Sneh Roy (@cookrepublic), a prominent Instagram foodie, ran a ‘30 days of Avocados’ campaign across her social channels for the month of October. This involved posting an avocado-themed post to her 130,000 followers every day of the month.

Using world-class keyword analysis and image recognition technology, Australian Avocados is also running ads across mobile and tablet, with the executions featuring where consumers are looking in related areas. GumGum is a platform that delivers adverts in this way. Activity has started particularly strongly, with an extremely high click-through rate in the first two weeks of activity.

YouTube Trueview will also see avocado ads played either before or during video playback, adding incremental reach on top of the audience that has seen the TV commercial on free-to-air TV. This content will be served across video content that appeals to foodies, health and food buffs, cooking enthusiasts and family-focused audiences.


avocado-instagram-activity

Instagram posts, part of the ‘30 days of Avocados’ campaign (above) and an avocado ad served when a viewer is looking at campaign-relevant content (below)

avocado-gumgum


 

Avocado activity in the media

Avocados got a great plug on the ABC’s Gruen program on Wednesday September 28. One of the program’s panel members, Russel Howcroft, said of the avocado TV campaign: “It shows usage occasions, colour, it will create sales”.

The avocados mention followed a bigger question at the beginning of the show around why fresh fruit needs to advertise. The whole episode (series 8, episode 9) is available to watch here.

 

Perfect Match shortlisted in industry awards

The avocado industry’s Perfect Match campaign (rolled out earlier in 2016) has been shortlisted in Mumbrella’s BEfest Awards.

The annual BEfest Awards is the only awards program dedicated to recognising the best in branded entertainment in Australia and New Zealand, and this year saw a 43 per cent rise in entries.

The Perfect Match campaign is shortlisted in the category of ‘Best Use of Film Craft’, with the winners announced on November 10.

GROWER PROFILE

STEWART IPSEN, WEST PEMBERTON AVOCADOS, WA

Smart business decisions and a lifetime of growing experience have helped Stewart Ipsen and his family make the most of Western Australia’s avocado boom time.

Stewart’s family have been farming in the Southern Forests district of Western Australia for more than 100 years. Over time they’ve tried their hand at growing a variety of vegetables as well as running cattle and sheep, but its avocados that have always held Stewart’s interest.

In 1995 Stewart’s father planted a small orchard on the home farm in Manjimup, but found the conditions were too warm, dry and salty for the trees to thrive on a larger scale. Upon returning from time in Perth and overseas, Stewart and his father bought into another farm in West Pemberton, 40km west of the family farm. This property became home to the main business, West Pemberton Avocados.

More than 20 years on, Stewart runs three farms in the region and West Pemberton Avocados is a great success.

“On my place we have 90 hectares in production, which is about 28,000 trees, and this summer season we’re planting another 40,000 trees on over 110 hectares,” Stewart said.

Stewart’s brother and sister also run separate farms in the district, with each sibling having sourced external investors to ensure sustainable growth.

“Our business is structured a little bit differently to most traditional family farms. We’ve sourced capital from investors and that’s why we’ve been able to grow. In this district, avocados have been a very good industry for 25 years and we’ve done pretty well… but I do think there are challenging times ahead.”

Stewart said the district’s potato industry has collapsed and much of the land and infrastructure will now be used for growing avocados because of recent success and demand for the fruit.

“The industry in Western Australia is going through a massive growth phase which is exciting, but has the potential for a fair element of risk.”

Stewart said the growth could create new challenges as far as ensuring the right price was received for fruit, sourcing markets and sustaining a cohesive industry.

But Stewart said there is also a lot to look forward to in the industry, including new R&D. Like most avocado growers, Stewart incorporates moisture monitoring technology into the day-to-day running of his farm and keeps up-to-date with advances in irrigation and fertigation.

“Faming is what I’ve always enjoyed doing and have always done. It’s always challenging being your own boss, and it means doing a lot of hours, but it’s rewarding when things are going well.”

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