With a strong focus on communication and development activities to support skills building, innovation adoption and knowledge growth, read about the industry’s current levy-funded R&D projects in the R&D snapshot below. For the latest on pineapple marketing activities, check out the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the pineapple Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) has recently been completed. Information on the SIAP chair will be made available on Hort Innovation’s Hort Innovation’s Pineapple 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 Pineapple grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the pineapple program. 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

Study groups enabling industry adaption to pineapple market changes (PI13006)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project facilitates the communication of up-to-date information among Australian pineapple growers through grower study groups. The ultimate goal is to arm growers with new skills to produce high yields of good-quality fruit, and to help provide the information needed to make good business decisions.

What’s the latest update? There are four regional grower study groups in this project, and each have now had five workshops. Participation has involved a total of 361 growers and 172 other stakeholders, with an average of 72 growers attending each round of regional meetings (representing the majority of growers in the industry). Detailed minutes from these meetings have been distributed to attendees, but are also available on the pineapple industry website, www.aussiepineapples.com.au.

A production forecast survey was also undertaken to update the estimate for the 2016 calendar year.


pineapple-nt-study-tour-1

Growers attending a three-day meeting/tour in the Northern Territory


 

Facilitating the development of the Australian pineapple industry stage 3 (PI15000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project aims to enhance the adoption of innovation and technology in the Australian pineapple industry to help growers remain resilient, viable and profitable. It is primarily delivered by an industry development officer (IDO), who helps build knowledge of R&D in the industry, facilitates opportunities for information exchange and learning among growers and with other stakeholders, and promotes capacity building in the industry.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting, the project had completed its first six months, with achievements for the IDO including:

  • Continued production of The Pineapple Press, with issues uploaded to the grower section of www.aussiepineapples.com.au
  • Facilitation of grower study groups
  • Preparation of the Pineapple Field Day, held back in July in Yeppoon
  • Involvement in Rural Discovery Day, held back in May in Brisbane
  • Keeping study group leaders informed about key issues, new potential trials and projects, access to the chemical diuron and more.

 

Other R&D projects of note…

» Integrated pest, disease and weed management systems for pineapple (PI12008), which is due for completion in November 2016 and will be reported in the next edition of Hortlink.

» Crop protection replacement for diuron in pineapple industry (ST15029)

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

There is a three-year marketing program for the pineapple industry that’s now in the early stages of execution. The aim of this first year is to lay the groundwork for the Australian Pineapples brand for current and future seasons. The idea of the ‘Endless Aussie Summer’ will be a key theme through the life of the marketing program, with a focus on Australian pineapples being available all year long.

To kick off the campaign, Sydney locals were treated to the first taste of summer in early September, when Australian Pineapples took over the city’s finest produce market at the Entertainment Quarter in the city’s east.

Hosted by Australian Pineapples ambassador Martyna Angell, at the event market goers had the opportunity to sample and purchase an abundance of dishes featuring the fruit. Visitors were also able to watch two live cooking demonstrations featuring new ways to entertain with pineapples, participate in Q&A sessions, and purchase fresh pineapples in some of the market stalls. The event was also attended by key media outlets.


pineapple-marketingAustralian Pineapples at the Entertainment Quarter in Sydney


Other activity

  • The look and feel of Australian Pineapple’s photography and website are currently being refreshed to inspire consumers and to showcase simple ways pineapples can be enjoyed.  Some of this new content is already being distributed via the Australian Pineapples Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AussiePineapples) and Instagram account (@aussiepineapples).
  • New recipes have also been developed and have recently been printed and released to retailers. The recipes were developed to highlight the #endlesssummer with pina colada popsicle recipes and barbecued/grilled dishes.
  • During years two and three of the program, the plan is for Australian Pineapples to partner with other tropical industries in joint in-store programs to educate consumers at the point of purchase.

GROWER PROFILE

BARRY BROOKS, BROOKS & SONS, QLD

A great mind for business and innovation has allowed pineapple grower Barry Brooks to expand on the teachings of the generations before him, and travel the world sharing his knowledge.

Barry’s grandfather was growing pineapples at the turn of last century. “It was a totally different business back then. They used to grow them near a railway line and then they’d pack them and put them on a train and they’d go all the way out to Longreach. They’d do deliveries all the way.”

In 1957, Barry’s parents bought a farm and moved from northern New South Wales to Yeppoon, Queensland, after honeymooning in the town. And in his early twenties, after time away studying and working in accounting, Barry returned to the farm to help out,

“The next thing I knew I was married with children and my life had completely changed – it was pineapples all the way!”

Barry put his accounting background to good use in the family business, formulating methods to expand it and, in turn, spread risk. “Over the years we kept buying little farms around us. I was probably the first in the world to devise methods to produce pineapples 52 weeks of the year,” Barry said.

The business, now based in Bungundarra, improved further when Woolworths invited Barry to supply their stores. “We did a lot of work around quality assurance and at the time were the only pineapple farm up to the Woolworths standard.”

In 2007, Barry’s quality assurance expertise gave him the opportunity to help set up a dairy farm in Pakistan for a private company. “Since then I’ve done work in the Middle East and Africa, for World Bank, USAID, Austrade, Arabic banks and other private companies,” he said. “It’s really interesting to go to places where there are absolutely no tourists and where the people have never even seen a European, and help make a difference.”

Barry’s business is also currently working with academics to manufacture bromelain, a pineapple enzyme. The product is increasing in popularity, particularly in Germany, where it is being used in the treatment of diseases and as a natural antibiotic.

Barry said bromelain could be of particular assistance to the dairy industry, as a natural replacement for antibiotics used to treat mastitis in cows. “Infections have become a big problem. If the infection gets into the blood, no-one wants the milk, and if the cows are treated with antibiotics, the milk can’t be processed into cheese or yoghurt because the cultures can’t work. So it’s some interesting work that’s being done,” he said.

Barry’s skills are in such high demand that sometimes he struggles to spend enough time on the family farm, which he runs with twin sons Jake and Ryan, and which is still recovering from cyclone Marcia.

“People say, ‘the cyclone was nearly two years ago’, but it takes nearly two years to grow a pineapple. We lost a massive amount of crop and buildings were damaged. We’re nearly back bigger and better, but it’s cost a lot of money.”

Each year, Brooks & Sons sows between two and three million pineapple plants. “We have different varieties for different times of year, and we use the different aspects or slopes to maximise sugar levels by taking advantage of the sunlight available.”

Most of the farm’s pineapples are bought by Golden Circle, now owned by Heinz, and Barry said he is impressed with the company’s modernised business methods.

“Warren Buffet’s business model is, you look after your supplier. If we supply pineapple in its own juice, rather than heavy syrup, we get a better price, and rings are worth more than pieces. In the past it was just tonnes and it was all lumped together,” Barry said.

“They explained to us that if a product has to be stored for six months then the storage costs as much as the pineapple in the can. The product is sold immediately and there are cost savings everywhere. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

And speaking of all things fresh, Barry said that Jake’s and Ryan’s young sons are already keen to carry on the family business. “They’re already expressing their desire to be little farmers. For the good of the country and for the industry, it’s important to have people coming on – the fresh new generation.”

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