Griffith University Agribusiness Team – PASE grant
A small grant has been awarded to the team from the Agribusiness research stream at Griffith University by the Commonwealth Government under the Project Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) funding scheme to investigate export capability, willingness and capacity within the Australian Passionfruit industry.
The team is led by Associate Professor Robin Roberts, who is strongly involved in research and teaching in the areas of product innovation in food value chains and international business. Joining her on the team is Dr Deborah Delaney who brings expertise in international finance and investment decision-making.
The project will hold a series of regional focus-group style workshops during December and January across the major growing regions and all passionfruit growers are invited to participate. Full details of the locations and timing will be communicated shortly. Following the workshops, a draft plan will be written and then a smaller selection of industry stakeholders will review and refine the plan with the team.
The final step will be a presentation of the plan and recommended next steps to the industry in mid-2018.
MT17002 – Tropical Fruit Export Strategy
Hort Innovation has commissioned the team at McKinna et al to produce an export plan across a number of tropical fruit industries including bananas, lychees, persimmons, limes, passionfruit and papaya.
The project, MT17002 – Tropical Fruit Export Strategy, will be developed through engaging with Hort Innovation, industry representative bodies, federal and state governments and other stakeholders, to collate information and undertake supporting analysis, to clearly identify market access goals and objectives for the tropical industries. This will include, but not be limited to, the identification and prioritisation of key export markets and key export commodities into those markets, market access priorities ranked across the industry, maintaining or improving current market access and relevant protocols, developing new export markets where market access is available and growing current export markets.
The strategy should outline the long term strategic export objectives for each industry as well as shorter term market/commodity specific objectives.
McKinna et al have a proven track record in delivering this type of project; they have recently completed an exhaustive study for Hort Innovation: VG15052 Vegetable Industry Export Strategy using funds from the Vegetables levy and funds from the Australian Government.
Thanks to the excellent work already undertaken in the research phase of the project MT17002 – Tropical Fruit Export Strategy, a strategic levy investment funded by multiple tropical fruit industries, we are already much closer to having a realistic pathway for exporting Australian passionfruit. Although the project is still in progress, we were given a sneak peek at some of the research insights at the recent SIAP meeting held in Brisbane. David and Catherine from project delivery partner McKinna et al, gave the group an overview of the project research. As we already know, there is almost no recorded export activity of passionfruit from Australia and most of the global production of passionfruit appears to be consumed within its country of origin, although the lack of available globally recorded data specific to passionfruit makes it difficult to talk in absolutes. We do know that South Africa, Colombia and Ecuador have been active in the export of passionfruit in recent years.
Based on a bespoke algorithm developed by McKinna, the team have identified a number of export markets where there appears to be potential for passionfruit from Australia based on pricing, seasonal availability and freight cost competitiveness. Passionfruit are also a relatively unknown fruit in many of these potential markets which represents a tremendous opportunity for Australia, providing we formulate the right market approach, product and brand strategy, and we identify the right market segments to target for long term success. Stay tuned for the final project report and recommendations later this year.
Our second project investigating export opportunities is also ongoing, although no formal update on progress has been received from the Griffith University team responsible. Growers from around the country who had indicated their interest in export have been contacted by the researchers and a couple of focus group sessions have been held. Feedback from grower participants indicated that the sessions were expertly run and provided a really good opportunity for growers to discuss export as a business channel for passionfruit. The next steering group meeting will be held in March where the research results will be presented, and a draft plan discussed. A final plan is due by the end of June 2018.
What are the next steps?
Having a good quality plan is just the start for us as an industry. Work is already underway to identify further grant funding opportunities as a way to rapidly facilitate the next stage, where specific markets will be assessed for the viability of Australian exports. In conjunction with investment by the Hort Innovation Passionfruit fund, it is important to the long-term success of export as a business option that target markets are well researched and target segments within those markets are clearly identified, with the right product formats developed to optimise the opportunity and create a differentiated offer for Australian passionfruit.
Thank you to both project teams – McKinna and Griffith University – for their investment in our industry and thank you to all the participants in both the research and the steering groups helping to guide the projects along.
A further update will be provided in the WINTER edition of The Passion Vine. In the meantime, we will be creating an Export Sub-Committee to help work through the steps required to make an export business viable for passionfruit growers.
If you’d like to join the sub-committee please contact Jane at email@example.com or 07-5438-7662
Latest update: May 2018
The final report from the project MT17002 – Tropical Fruit Export Strategy is now available. The media release from Hort Innovation can be accessed here.
Our second project investigating export opportunities is also ongoing, although the team at Griffith University have yet to provide either an update on the project progress or an indication of when we can expect to see a final report. They are obviously just really busy and no doubt it will come to us in time.
What are the next steps?
The Export sub-committee will be holding its first meeting on 24th July in Bundaberg. Membership of the sub-committee is open to ANY interested party in the passionfruit industry – growers, supply chain members, researchers and general industry stakeholders. To join the sub-committee, please contact Jane Richter on 07-5438-7662 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
The sub-committee will meet using Zoom online conferencing so the time commitment required to participate will be a few hours per meeting at the most. Where required, face-to-face meetings will be tacked on to existing industry events.
The project MT17002 is part of the Hort Innovation Passionfruit Fund. Like this website itself, it has been funded by Hort Innovation using the passionfruit levy and, in the case of R&D, with contributions from the Australian Government. This project also involved funding from additional sources.
Latest update: August 2018
The final report from the PASE project is now available here.
Export Sub-Committee Meeting – Bundaberg 24 July
The Export sub-committee held its first meeting on 24th July in Bundaberg. The attendees were:
Growers: Tina McPherson, Mike Blasco, Jim Gordon, Jane Richter, Brendan Prossliner, Gary Prossliner
Supply Chain: Sean Russell and Aidan Hutton – JE Tipper
Hort Innovation: Christian Patterson (New Relationship Manager – Passionfruit) and Jenny Van de Meeberg (Trade Manager)
The initial discussion centred on the key take-outs from the two export project reports. The presentation summarising the projects and the overall meeting agenda can be accessed here.
We then discussed the knowledge gaps that were evident from the studies which included no understanding of the volume potential or pricing in export market channels, how consumers would actually eat passionfruit and where (at home, in a cafe or restaurant), no real understanding of the supply chains.
No clear direction was achieved during this first meeting, but there is some determination to take it to the next stage. There is a sense that everyone involved is waiting for someone else to take the lead, but there are no individuals currently stepping forward to take that leading role. Jane advised the group that although she has driven the process to this point, she is unable to take it forward given her heavy workload and farm expansion plans.
Advice from Hort Innovation Trade Manager was to ‘forget NZ’ given there is no current export protocol in place. Plus the small size of the market opportunity at a larger horticultural level means that scarce resource with Hort Innovation is unlikely to be allocated to follow up on the protocol development. Unless we drive it hard as an industry, there is unlikely to be market access to NZ for Australian passionfruit in the near future.
This leaves the open markets of Singapore & Hong Kong as the strongest potential markets.
The sub-committee members confirmed from the meeting are:
Growers: Brendan Prossliner, Mike Blasco, Melissa Smith, Tina McPherson, Jane Richter, Shane O’Grady (WA)
Supply Chain: Matthew James (Ireland 53), Aidan Hutton (JE Tipper)
The next step for this season is to set up a follow-up meeting with the sub-committee and an import broker to explore the two market opportunities further.
This will likely take place at JE Tipper’s Acacia Ridge offices in early September – date and time to be advised and as before, ALL interested parties are very welcome.