With a couple of industry projects having wrapped up and been reported on in the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016), for this reporting period chestnut R&D levy investment has focused on the industry’s communications program. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. In the marketing snapshot, discover how Hort Innovation will use the marketing levy to drive strong chestnut messaging in the upcoming season.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the chestnut Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) has recently been completed. Information on the SIAP chair will be made available on Hort Innovation’s Chestnut grower page shortly. The page will also continue to make available summaries from the SIAP’s meetings.

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 Chestnut grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Corrine Jasper is always available to answer questions on the chestnut 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

Communication and adoption program for the Australian chestnut industry (CH16000)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Strong communication and technical support is vital for stakeholders in the chestnut industry, particularly growers, to be able to make informed decisions when facing future challenges and opportunities. This new project will keep the industry up-to-date with the latest news, R&D outputs and other key information through a variety of channels.

What’s the latest update? Beginning at the end of September, the broad activities of this project will include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Production of industry newsletter Nuts and Burrs in print and digital form
  • Quarterly updates via Australian Nutgrower
  • The running of industry field days (at least two per year), with regional grower meetings and other meetings as required
  • The development of other methods of communication, such as mini e-newsletters, in between the months that Nuts and Burrs is distributed
  • Work via the Chestnuts Australia Inc website
  • Collection, collation and dissemination of annual industry statistics, detailing national planting and production information for the industry.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Based on the positive feedback and success of the chestnut recipe and information brochure produced and delivered in last year’s season, a new brochure containing fresh recipe ideas with chestnuts is being prepared for the new season.

This brochure will be distributed to consumers via independent greengrocers, grower promotions, through industry promotional activities and also circulated via public relations activities.

The content will not only include new ways to create delicious everyday meals with fresh chestnuts, but also educational messaging around chestnut selection, storage and preparation, plus health information.

To promote the chestnut season to media, a pre-season release of the brochure will be delivered to a range of key influencers such as nutritionists and dietitians, food and health editors and writers, hospitality publications, newspapers, food bloggers and food presenters across TV and radio, lifestyle programs and more.

Select media influencers will also be approached with samples and content to influence their communications. The key messages being communicated will be that chestnuts…

  • Are an Australian-grown, seasonal fresh product
  • Have a unique and appealing flavour and texture
  • Have health benefits, different to other nuts
  • Can be cooked and frozen to enjoy any time
  • Can be enjoyed in numerous ways in everyday meals
  • Are great value
  • Are gluten free.

new-chestnut-recipes


GROWER PROFILE

PHILIP FARNELL, WELLWOOD WALLACE, VIC

Organic nut grower Philip Farnell and his wife, Patty, gave up the city life two-and-a-half years ago when they moved onto the Wellwood orchard in Wallace, Victoria.

The property was established in 1992 and while walnut trees remain a large focus, the couple grow beautiful chestnuts, along with some hazelnuts.

Philip, who was a civil engineer, said the change from city to country work has been a refreshing change. “It’s been great to settle down into the routine of farming. It was on the drawing board for a long time,” he said.

Philip and Patty employ the equivalent of one full timer and do much of the work themselves, with a little help from some four-legged friends. “We don’t cut grass like they used to – we now run some sheep along with the mower.”

New harvesting methods have also been on the agenda. “We recently trialled a new harvesting approach for our chestnuts. Rather than picking them up with a garden rake and a bucket, we used a vacuum harvest process. The vacuum machine is somewhat similar to what they use for collecting horse poo – it tows nicely behind the ride-on mower and saves a lot of labour,” Phillip said. “We found we could harvest a very large tree in about a fifth of the time.”

Philip said immediate challenges facing the chestnut industry centre around biosecurity, including quarantine rules with respect to blight control. “Chestnuts suffer blight just like walnuts do. It’s devastating trees and crops in the north-east Victoria region. We recently had our farm assessed and we’ve got zero so we’re very lucky, but we’re quite isolated from anybody else.”

Last season many growers also experienced black spot in their chestnuts, Phillip said, which didn’t help with low prices and high consumer expectations. “A number of growers at the Tri-Nut Conference reported that they had black spot in their nuts, which unfortunately isn’t visible until you open them – which is generally in the hands of the consumer.”

Philip said biosecurity at the farm gate was becoming a bigger issue for farmers across the board, with many growers putting signs at their property entrances to discourage unexpected visitors. “It could be other farmers, irrigation sales people or plant machinery contractors. This is to avoid contamination of the property by people bringing unknown pests in, as well as weed seeds.”

In the Bright region trees had been removed and burnt when they contracted disease, Philip said. “It’s scary that your trees can be knocked over like this. The government takes over and quarantines your property to isolate the disease. It’s a total loss and some of those trees would be very large and very mature. You’re looking at 30 years before those trees are established again. That’s a generation gone – you won’t see those trees reach that level of production again until the grower’s kids are looking to take over the farm.”

All of this highlights the need for the industry to come together and continue to address the issue of quarantine.

On the consumer side of things, Philip sees an opportunity to continue educating consumers that chestnuts are clean, fresh and more than up to international standards.

“I would say, I too was naive about chestnuts before I entered the industry. They can be quite tasty as a snack and they can be used in cooking. They’re an alternative source of protein, and they’re great.”

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