Successful strawberry grower, Anthony Yewers, has invested in a property at Pemberton WA as his Berry Sweet strawberry business continues to prosper.
Yewers’ investment in the region is said to create a year round supply for supermarket giant Coles according to The West, which is a significant increase of up to 33 percent of what Yewers previously supplied.
Growing up in the industry, Yewers took over his parent’s farm when his mother fell ill and has since grown the business from its humble beginnings to one of Western Australia’s largest producers.
Berry Sweet currently produces 250,000 trays of fruit each year, suppling retailers and buyers throughout WA, South Australia and Victoria.
Australia’s peak body for the apple and pear sector, Apple and Pear Australia, is encouraging consumers to support Australian growers by choosing local products over imported at the checkout.
Managing director of the industry body, John Durham is urging consumers to help secure a future for the Aussie industry by showing loyalty towards local producers.
“We produce food in this country to the highest standard in the world,” he toldABC Rural.
“Australian consumers need to recognise that and be prepared to pay a little bit more for it, because the alternative is to buy imported product.”
Durham said that Australia has very high food safety standards and these standards are not necessarily uniform in other countries.
“We don’t know what food safety standards apply to the production of that food, but we’re happy to buy it because it’s discounted by 10, 20 or 30 percent.
His comments have come as struggling producers in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria prepare to rally today for support in the wake of SPC Ardmona’s decision last month to stop taking produce from local producers in favour of imported produce.
Food industry groups say they will lobby the Federal Government for a support package after SPC Ardmona told 170 fruit-growers in the Goulburn Valley they would no longer accept their produce.
ABC News reports the food giant told growers at meetings yesterday their produce would not be accepted from May 1.
SPC said the high exchange rate and a decline in export markets forced the decision, and Apple and Pear Australia chairman John Lawrenson said the decision came on the back of previous moves by SPC to dramatically reduce its fruit intake.
“I know that Fruitgrowers Victoria are taking up the cudgels and is moving quite quickly on this and we're there to provide support as well,” he said.
The Northern Victorian Fruitgrowers Association said it would hold meetings with growers before lobbying the Government for an assistance package to help growers left without an income.
Adelaide Now reported restructuring and corporate advisory firm McGrathNicol was appointed as receivers last week after Heard Phillips were assigned as administrators of the company.
McGrathNicol partner Sam Davies said it is still too early to establish the reasons for the failure of the company but noted it was under-capitalised and had experienced heavy operating losses from which it was not able to recover in 2011/2012 when industry prices for potatoes fell.
“We will continue the company’s operations as normal whilst an urgent assessment is undertaken of the requirement for the management and harvesting of existing crops and preparations were made for planting the winter crop,” Davies said.
“We will be working closely with contract growers, employees, customers, critical suppliers and the Mondelo Farms management team over the next two weeks to stabilise the business operations, including reviewing existing supply and distribution arrangements.”
Davies added the Mondello Farms business will be taken to the market for a sale on a ‘going-concern’ basis.
Mondello Farms is a large scale wholesaler of processed potatoes in the national potato industry.
It employs about 140 staff in its South Australian and Victorian operations.
“Rosella has been an icon of the Australian food sector since 1859 and its closure reflects the incredible pressure and adversity that our local food production industry is currently facing,” said Peter Mulcahy, AusVeg’s CEO, in a statement.
“Rising levels of imported product are threatening the viability of Aussie growers and placing our ability to feed ourselves as a nation in the future in danger.”
The vegetable group’s figures suggest that $908 million worth of vegetables were imported in 2011-12, double the amount in 2004-05 and a jump of 16 percent on the year before.
A pharmacist and local radio commentator has expressed his disgust at marketing tactics recently employed by fruit company Goulburn Valley.
Gerald Quigley was referring to the new Goulburn Valley Fresh range of sliced and packaged apples. The bagged apples contain additives calcium ascorbate and calcium chloride to stop the fruit from browning and ensure it keeps its crunch.
According to thewest.com.au, Quigley said these chemicals are of "dubious health benefit" and he's angered that these marketing tactics are deemed as necessary in improving childrens' consumption of fruit.
"I am horrified that we have to use these sorts of marketing tactics to try and teach kids the value of eating an apple," he said.
However, SPC Ardmona (owners of Goulburn Valley) marketing and innovation director, Nicki Anderson, said Goulburn Valley Fresh aims to help time-poor parents by replacing lollies and chips as a healthier snack food alternative.
"We want Goulburn Valley Fresh to be the healthy alternative to a bar of chocolate during your afternoon break or putting a bag of chips into your child’s lunch box. It’s all about convenience and ensuring a healthy option is now available for Australians to choose," she said.
What the company says Leggo's is proud to announce the launch of its new Vine Ripe pasta sauce range. Made with 100 percent Australian vine ripened tomatoes, the Leggo's Vine Ripe range helps to create delicious, fresh Italian dishes any night of the week.
Leggo's Vine Ripe pasta sauce contains all natural ingredients including tomatoes ripened on the vine in the ‘fruit bowl’ region in Victoria's North and Southern NSW. Leggo's vine ripened tomatoes are complemented by simple ingredients to highlight their natural sweetness.
The perfect ingredient for any Italian meal, Leggo's Vine Ripe can be used by itself with pasta for a fresh tasting, simple dish or can be used as a base to add your own special touches to.
Simplot Australia general manager of retail marketing, Tara Lordsmith said, "We are thrilled to be adding Leggo's Vine Ripe Pasta Sauce to our range. We know that consumers are seeking Australian grown produce so we're confident shoppers will embrace the simple, quality ingredients and fresh flavor of this delicious new range."
The three variants in the Vine Ripe range include:
Tomato and Roasted Garlic
Tomato and Basil
Tomato and Onion
The new Leggo's Vine Ripe range is available at Woolworths, Coles and independent supermarkets nationwide.
Goulburn Valley is trying to encourage Australians to eat more fruit by releasing a new range of sliced and packaged apples.
Launched in Sydney on 18 February with the help of the Irwin family, Goulburn Valley’s Fresh product includes ‘freshly sliced Victorian-grown apples in convenient ready-to-go packaging.”
The launch follows a survey of 1,511 families which found that almost 50 percent of 18-44 year olds report eating less than one serve of fruit a day, while 46 percent of families (with mainly preschool or primary school aged kids) report eating less than one serve of fruit a day.
SPC Ardmona (owners of Goulburn Valley) marketing and innovation director, Nicki Anderson, said Goulburn Valley Fresh aims to replace lollies and chips as a healthier snack food alternative.
“We want Goulburn Valley Fresh to be the healthy alternative to a bar of chocolate during your afternoon break or putting a bag of chips into your child’s lunch box. It’s all about convenience and ensuring a healthy option is now available for Australians to choose.”
The product contains additives calcium ascorbate and calcium chloride, and is sold in a recyclable plastic bag.
According to nutritionist Susie Burrell the value-adding of the humble apple is yet another sign of how time-poor Australians are.
"The two additives are simply to stop the fruit going brown and to keep the apple crunchy they are pretty basic additives and not linked to allergic reactions,'' she told news.com.au.
“While having the apple chopped already will potentially lose some of the active compounds, such as antioxidants, for young children and boys who are less likely to eat fruit unless it is chopped up for them, this is a reasonable way to boost their intake of fresh fruit especially at school when squashed fruit is common.''
Food manufacturer Heinz is threatening to sue controversial entrepreneur and advocate for Australian business, Dick Smith, who has referred to Heinz's products as poor quality.
Labels on Smith's Magnificent Sliced Beetroot read "When American-owned Heinz decided to move its beetroot processing facility from Australia to New Zealand causing hundreds of lost jobs, we decided enough is enough.
"So we are fighting back against poor quality imported product."
According to stuff.co.nz, Smith has told New Zealand Radio that if taken to court he will be defeated, but stuck to his guns, adding "I presume it's the different soil, or the different style of beetroot you have there [NZ]," he said.
"It's nothing like our beautiful sweet Golden Circle beetroot of old."
Heinz Watties announced in mid-2011 that the processing of some sauces and beetroot would move from Australia to Hastings and Hawke’s Bay, however in November last year reported a five percent drop in net profit for the year to April 29 2012, with significant costs centred around the relocation of sauce and beetroot processing to New Zealand.
In a legal letter from Heinz that Smith made public, the company said job losses were minimal, despite announcing in 2011 that the move was expected to cut more than 340 jobs here in Australia.
With January seeing four celebrities spruiking four different food products in as many weeks, these new marketing campaigns signal the start of a competitive new year in 2013. Andrew Duffy reports.
From junk food to macadamias and table grapes, Aussie food brands have started 2013 with a number of prominent celebrity endorsements.
One of the first stars to join the trend was model and TV presenter Rachael Finch, who was named the new ambassador for Australian Summer Stone Fruit in early January.
Finch, a former Miss Universe Australia and Celebrity MasterChef runner up, will head up the new campaign which aims to encourage Australians to eat fresh local stone fruit.
Along with a collection of exercise tips, workout videos, and healthy eating suggestions, Finch's campaign aims to coax people into starting the new year with a healthy eating plan.
It also aims to support local fruit growers, who produce over 100,000 tonnes of nectarines, plums, apricots, and peaches a year.
“Food has always been a big part of my life,” Finch said in launching the campaign.
“Some of my family operates fruit and vegetable farms in North Queensland so supporting our local farmers is really important to me.”
If it works Finch's campaign will be a well-needed boost for the stone fruit industry, which has suffered from volatility and declining growth in recent years.
According to market research from IBIS World, Australia's stone fruit industry has posted -0.2 per cent growth over the last five years, with growers hit by extreme weather and uncertain economic conditions.
“This, combined with rising farm input prices and the growing market power of major retailers, has eroded the profitability of primary producers and industry revenue,” researchers said.
But Finch isn't the only one helping boost a struggling industry with a healthy new campaign.
January also saw swimming champion Libby Trinckett appointed as the face of a new advertising drive by Australian Table Grapes.
Riding off the back of Trickett's public profile, the industry collective is trying to boost demand by encouraging consumers to partake in a seven day eating plan.
The diet encourages people to view table grapes as a healthy alternative to other snacks, and incorporates the fruit into a range of different meals.
Along with the new campaign Australian Table Grapes Association CEO Jeff Scott has been talking up this year's harvest, claiming growers are expecting takings 10-15 percent larger than last year's crop.
Fellow swimming star Eamon Sullivan has also jumped on the bandwagon, joining Australian Macadamias for a food campaign targeting Australia day.
In launching the campaign Australian Macadamias pointed to research claiming only half of people aged 18-64 knew macadamias were a native fruit.
Sullivan said the advertising drive was the perfect opportunity for locals to brush up on their knowledge of the nut, which accounts for around $130 million of exports.
But the celebrity endorsements haven't all been about healthy eating and fresh produce.
Along with the grape, fruit, and macadamia campaigns launched in January, tennis star Maria Sharapova released her “entirely inappropriate” boutique lolly line Sugarpova.
The launch represented a sharp break in the way sports stars are usually marketed to the public, with Sharapova spruiking the new line to young girls who “crave” sugary products.
“My earliest memory of candy is being a little girl back in Russia and asking my parents for a lollipop after a good practice on the tennis court,” Sharapova says in the product's promotional material.
“It was that little treat that I looked forward to.”
The lollies, which contain a whopping 21 grams of sugar per serving, raised eyebrows among health experts, with the marketing drive in stark contrast to the attitudes of most Aussie athletes.
In a paper published last year researchers at the University of Sydney claimed most elite athletes were opposed to the idea of using their celebrity to endorse junk food, and supported using their profile to promote healthier lifestyles.
“Most respondents supported a role for athletes in promoting physical activity and obesity prevention, and disagreed that athletes should promote unhealthy foods and alcohol,” the study said.
Nevertheless Sharapova's brand has already taken hold in the US and UK, and is unlikely to face the same challenges that threaten the viability of local fruit growers.
With January seeing four major advertising drives launched in as many weeks these campaigns signal the start of a competitive new year in 2013.
But which brands come out on top, and by how far, remains to be seen.
New South Wales' bill following the recent disastrous floods could hit $10 million or more, says the NSW Farmers Association.
The Association estimated that this figure is likely to rise once farmers are able to get out to their paddocks and assess the damage, the Australian reports, with macadamias, bananas, cane and soya beans particularly vulnerable to water damage. It's also expected that significant damage will be to roads, farm infrastructure and houses.
It's worse up north, with losses of $250 million expected at Gayndah, which produces more than half of the country's mandarins and lemons. At least thee locals lost their entire crops, and others are seriously damaged.
Alf Lock is a cane farmer in northern NSW's Ballina, and told the Australian, "This would have to be the worst period in the industry's history.
"The next week for anyone with water in the crop will be critical … There are a number of hot days forecast and when there's a bit of water on the ground, it heats up and just cooks the younger plants — it destroys them completely."
Wheat and barley prices are expected to jump as a result of the recent hot weather, which is also expected to damage the sorghum fodder grain crop. Farmers are also expecting a surge in water costs as they struggle to keep their crops alive.
Global warming could see more frequent heatwaves in Australia, resulting in crop failures. Fortunately, there is a national and international effort by plant breeders and physiologists to develop new varieties of crops with heat tolerance. Read more here.
Australia's vegetable growers are experiencing a "race to the bottom" with an oversupply of produce and weak consumer demand resulting in a slide in prices.
Released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, quarterly inflation figures show that vegetable prices have dropped 5.7 percent in the last three months of 2012.
The Australian spoke with a third-generation brussel sprouts grower from Adelaide Hills, John Cranwell, who said "It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that, because it has been really terrible the last couple of years.
"When demand is low and supply is high it is a race to the bottom, and producers are trying to pinch sales off everybody else and each other."
Deputy chief executive of Ausveg, Willian Churchill, said that in recent times Aussie growers, in general, haven't experienced some of the adverse weather events that have affected them in previous year, but are suffering from a drop in demand by consumers.
Churchill isn't expecting further price drops this year. claiming that a tightening in supply should see prices rise again.
Australian swimming champion Libby Trickett has for the second year in a row been appointed the face of Australian Table Grapes' Munch-A Bunch-A Grapes campaign.
Trickett is encouraging Australians to follow her Seven Day Grape Shape Healthy Eating Plan which was developed by her sports dietician, Jessica Abbott, and involves snacking on table grapes and incorporating them into everyday meals.
The peak season campaign will run from February to March 2013 and comprises intensive public relations backed by nationwide in-store marketing.
Ideal weather conditions have paved the way for a promising delivery of late season Australian table grapes from the Sunraysia region of Victoria (Mildura and Robinvale) and Western Australia, which collectively constitutes 70 percent of the country's production.
"Growers around the country have experienced excellent crops this year with an abundance of superb quality, plump, full-bunched fruit packed with sweetness. The outlook for February and March through to May is extremely promising with expectations that we’ll be up in volume by 10-15 percent on last year’s harvest," said CEO of Australian Table Grapes Association, Jeff Scott.
Trickett isn't the first health conscious Aussie to be asked to promote healthy eating habits, with model and TV presenter Rachel Finch recently being announced as the face of a new '100 percent Dribbilicious' campaign which encourages Australians to eat fresh, local peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.
International research has found that fast food could be linked to severe cases of asthma in youth as well as putting them at risk of allergic diseases.
The research, which came from the biggest study of children called the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, found that young teenagers in particular were nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer from severe asthma if they are fast food more than three times a week.
According to SMH, the scientists behind the research said its findings could have "major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods" if the link turns out to be causal.
Unsurprisingly, the research also found that eating fruit helps to reduce your risk or suffering from asthma or allergies, with symptoms cut by 11 percent for those who ate at least three portions per week.
The risk of severe asthma increased by 27 percent in young children who regularly ate fast food, and they were also more likely to have severe eczema and rhinitis.
For teenagers, eating butter, margarine and pasta was also associated with asthma symptoms.
The study looked at 319,000 13 to 14 year olds from 51 countries and 181,000 six to seven year olds from 31 countries.
Kiwifruit prices are due to rise up to 20 percent after the vine disease Psa-V attacked a large portion of this year's harvest.
According to stuff.co.nz, export volumes are expected to drop 10-13 million trays this season, with New Zealand's gold kiwifruit variety in particular being badly affected.
The disease is said to be affecting 69 percent of New Zealand's kiwifruit orchards.
And while freen kiwifruits have also been struck down, Tony Ponder, chief executive and director of Southern Produce, one of the biggest kiwifruit market distributors, isn't expecting a shortage of this variety this year.
For many growers the gold fruit harvest starting in late March will be their last for at least two years, as they await production of new, potentially Psa-resistant, gold variety vines, says stuff.co.nz.
This month marks the 10th birthday for beverage manufacturer, nudie. To help celebrate, the Australian brand has released two new products, which are a slight deviation from the brand's core range. Brand 'governess' Rachel Clarke sat down with Food mag to share the details.
"We've got two new ranges. We've got the v-nudie range which is 100 percent fruit – there's nothing added, it's all about fruit and vegies. For the first time this is a vegie range by nudie and there are three products: apple, cucumber and kiwifruit; carrot, apple, orange and ginger; and beetroot, pineapple, mint and more ['more' includes apple and carrot].
"So they're quite unique flavours, but flavours that we've been working on for a really long time that deliver on taste and are all about nudie's ethos of being nothing but fruit…with vegetables," says Clarke.
Not only is the v-nudie range nudie's first vegetable juice range, but it's also a 1L offering, a size the brand has never released before.
"It's a family offering, to help people get their two and five serves of fruit and vegies a day."
About two weeks after v-nudie was released, Wonder Winnie hit the shelves.
"Wonder Winnie is a completely different offering," says Clarke. "Again, it's made by nudie but it's not a nudie product because, as I said, nudie's all about fruit in a bottle.
"Wonder Winnie is a water-based, light quencher so it's made with water, it contains fruit juice, is naturally sweetened with Stevia which makes it a low calorie drink. So we're targeting different people. Wonder Winnie is all about thirst quenching and taste and being light."
The five flavours which make up this new range are cranberry and apple with aloe vera; grapefruit with gingko biloba; lemon and apple with guarana; cranberry, apple and lemon with echinacea; and cranberry and raspberry with rosehip.
It's not surprising that nudie, like many food and beverage brands in Australia, is reluctant to publish health claims on or about its products.
"It's really tricky to talk about health benefits on products. It's just not something we do and it's not something you can really do, to say 'this juice will make you healthy' … so we don't promote it [Wonder Winnie] as a health drink, but definitely the fact that it's low in calories is great for people who are watching their weight or on a diet," says Clarke.
She adds that it's nudie's commitment to steering clear of preservatives and unnatural additives which tells consumers it's a healthier option when compared to other beverages in the market.
"I think it's because they're 100 percent fruit juice. There's nothing added, no preservatives, it's just a natural fruit drink. So yes, I guess it is a healthier option than other beverages out there, but we don't really promote the healthiness of it too much. It's just more about fruit, fun and having a good time," she says.
The use of Stevia in the Wonder Winnie range allowed nudie to hold onto its commitment to natural ingredients, while still thinking outside the box and expanding its product range.
"For us it was really important that this would be a natural product, especially being made by nudie, it had to fit into our core 'nothing but fruit' message.
"So Stevia is a completely natural product. It's extracted from a plant and is 100 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a really little bit to add to your product, and we use it because it's natural. We wouldn't be comfortable using anything in our juices or drinks that wasn't natural. The fact that we can add it and it delivers on taste and makes the drink low calorie is why we used it," says Clarke.
Not easy being nudie
Staying true to its 'nothing but fruit' mantra isn't an easy thing for nudie to do, says Clarke.
The brand, which also sources about 80 percent of its fruit from within Australia, is constantly educating its clients on how to best handle the product.
"A nudie product is not an easy product to make because we don't add any preservatives or additives, so it's a natural product in a bottle. It's difficult to make because you need to make sure that everything's completely clean, you're using the best quality fruit – because taste is super important – but then you've also got the other side of it, which is transport and storage. You can't just deliver it and have them let it sit out of the fridge for an hour or so. So it's a hard product to make and it's a hard product to distribute, transport and store."
Communication with clients and consumers is paramount, she adds. Nudie tries to urge its clients to order small numbers frequently, because its products have a short shelf life and, exluding Wonder Winnies, can't be stored for extended periods or without refrigeration.
"So it's about communicating to people and making it clear on the bottle that you can't leave this out of the fridge. Some people don't really get it. We still get people calling and saying they left a nudie drink in their car and it exploded all through the car, which is a bad thing, but it's also a good thing because then people realise that there's actually nothing added. If you leave your juice in the car and it's a 40 degree day and it makes it through to the end of the day, it kind of makes you wonder what's in it.
"So for a nudie to be that fragile – it's a really good thing."
Head to our Facebook page to see pics from Food mag's visit to nudie's HQ.
Model and TV presenter, Rachael Finch is the new ambassador for Australian Summer Stonefruit.
The host of Channel Seven’s Great Outdoors, former Miss Universe Australia, Celebrity MasterChef runner up will front the new ‘100% Dribbilicious’ campaign which encourages Australians to eat fresh local peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots as part of healthy new year eating plans.
Finch said “Food has always been a big part of my life. Some of my family operates fruit and vegetable farms in North Queensland so supporting our local farmers is really important to me."
The campaign features a collection exercise tips and workout videos (below), recipes and healthy eating suggestions from Finch.
Around 800 growers in 26 regions spread around the country produce more than 100,000 tonnes of nectarines, plums, apricots and peaches from October to April each year.
The season starts in sub-tropical Queensland and production kicks in down-country as the sun heads south for summer. The northern areas of Western Australia and New South Wales spring into action before Victoria and South Australia, rounded off by Tasmanian harvests from mid-January.