Stonefruit set to start
As counterseasonal stonefruit imports from the US finally gain Australian access, director of Fresh Solutions Group Adam Leslie shares his company’s plans for the season ahead.
What plans has Fresh Solutions Group put in place to begin importing stonefruit?
Adam Leslie : We had a preferred supplier already identified who we’d been working with for a considerable amount of time to ensure that, when approval was given, we would be ready right from the start. We’ll be sourcing supply from California and are excited to be working with Wawona-Moonlight Global, whom we’ve conducted business with before and have already built up a great relationship with. We’ve also been working closely with Tina Haga, their extremely experienced export manager, to put in place a fantastic programme for the season.
We must acknowledge the hard work of Marcy Martin and the California Tree Fruit and Grape League, who have been instrumental in securing a successful outcome for Californian growers, importers, and Australian consumers.
Which stonefruit products are you importing and in what volumes?
AL: We’ll be importing both yellow-flesh and whiteflesh peach and nectarine varieties. We’d like to achieve reasonable volumes this season, but our immediate focus is to position the Wawona Moonlight brand as a premium quality supplier with fruit offering a superior flavour and eating experience.
We’ve opted to wait for the pre-clearance programme to be established before bringing in any fruit from California, so our first shipments arrive into Australia in the first week of August. Some fruit has already arrived from California prior to the pre-clearance inspection process being set up, but we and our supplier have decided the pre-clearance programme gives a greater certainty and minimises risks for all concerned. In future years it seems logical to think the programme would be expanded to include apricots and plums.
AL: Our exclusive partnership with Sunlight International and the Dulcich family, renowned globally for their premium quality grapes, means we are introducing new proprietary varieties into the Australian marketplace this season for the first time. These include the Esteem Seedless and Emerald Seedless varieties, both offering the consumer a unique flavor profile, larger berries and extended shelf-life, which we are expecting to resonate well with Australian consumers. The current protocol is difficult in terms of fumigation and cold treatment time, as well as long transit times from California to Australia, which invariably affect the shelf-life of fruit when it arrives and harms consumer satisfaction.
That’s why our partnership with Sunlight International and the introduction of new proprietary varieties that significantly reduce a lot of these issues is so exciting. Sunlight International has just completed the construction of new fumigation and cold treatment facilities onsite in California, dedicated to the Australian market. We should see reasonable organic growth in volumes this year given there were delays last season with new protocols being agreed to and implemented. We have a rapidly increasing retail and wholesale programme across all Australian states and territories for 2013. Some of our larger customers have secured exclusive distribution agreements with us.
We’ve already begun supplying the West Australian (WA) market since the approval decision last month and have a number of strategic wholesale partnerships in place, notably with Fresh Express Produce. They are extremely excited by the prospect of offering their customers access to new, improved proprietary grape varieties.
Article kindly supplied by Fruitnet, Produce Plus Magazine, Spring 2013 issue.