COVID-19 updates & news ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Avocados Australia Guacamole 12 June 2020
Visit for our collated COVID-19 resources
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

COVID-19 case on Queensland farm

Operational health management plans have helped a Bundaberg strawberry farm quickly return to picking after a worker tested positive to COVID-19. To date, testing of the man’s friends, family, colleagues and other close contacts have not revealed any additional cases. The man in his 20s travelled to Bundaberg from Melbourne (where he is believed to have caught the virus), via Brisbane on 1-2 June. Queensland Health has highlighted how the farm’s plans (one for the farm and one for the accommodation) allowed for a quick contact tracing. You can find more about health management plans and other safety measures on our website.

Hort Innovation Chair Selwyn Snell

Selwyn Snell retiring from Hort Innovation

After 11 years, Hort Innovation Chair Selwyn Snell is set to retire from horticulture’s research and development corporation in November this year. Mr Snell says the time is right to say farewell to the company he’s been a part of for more than a decade, as total retirement beckons on the horizon.

Oligonychus coffeae life stages on P. americana (Source: KK, Srikumar. (2015). Record of new host plant of red spider mite, Oligonychus coffeae (Nietner). Current biotica. 9. 98-100.)

Tea red spider mite control registered

Tea red spider mite (Olygonychus Coffeae) is a relatively new pest to avocados. The minor use permit for Abamectin in the control of tea red spider mite is due to expire in October 2020. The use of Abamectin for this purpose has now been added to many Abamectin product labels and growers can refer the APVMA website and product labels for its use.

Retail quality project

Retail project to help improve quality

The Monitoring Avocado Quality in Retail project (AV19003) has recently resumed and will continue for three years. This project monitors avocado fruit quality in retail stores across the country and providing detailed, timely feedback to specific packhouses and the industry as a whole. Results from this program will help avocado suppliers and retailers identify quality improvement opportunities in real-time and provide an objective measure to industry on improving consumer eating experience of avocados.

Australian Avocados - #smashanavoathome

Keeping avocados on the front foot

The team at Australian Avocados has generated 163 pieces of media and social coverage to date, supporting the current campaign as the season changes from Shepard to Hass, earning more than 28.4 million opportunities to see. Also popular has been the #smashanavoathome campaign, which has so far had the potential to be seen by more than 15 million consumers across media and social media specific to this campaign. To support the #smashanavoathome campaign, Australian Avocados is planning a new social competition on the Australian Avocados' Facebook and Instagram. Details to come. Australian Avocados marketing activities are managed by Hort Innovation and funded by the avocado marketing levy.

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Reminder to watch the temperature

As part of an avocado supply chain feedback project (AV18000), two videos have been released to provide an update on the findings and progress of the project. In AV18000, 40 supply chains were examined and results highlight that:

  • only 25% of supply chains are achieving best practice temperatures at pack shed departure
  • only 35% of the supply chain are achieving best practice temperatures during transport
  • only 30% of supply chains are achieving best practice temperatures during storage
  • 80% of supply chains are achieving best practice temperatures during ripening.

You can view the results of the temperature monitoring in this video, and the time avocados spend in the various supply chain stages in this video. We encourage all industry members to utilise the available resources in the BPR and temperature loggers where possible to monitor temperature and manage the supply chain to ensure we are achieving optimal quality for consumers in our pursuit to grow demand of Australian avocados.

The BPR is our free online one-stop-shop to support best practice throughout the Australian avocado supply chains. We encourage all of our stakeholders to register and access this vital resource.

Avocados Australia administers ANVAS so growers have access to healthy avocado trees
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Has your GS1 databar on your printed fruit stickers been verified?

Packhouses who use (or plan to use) a GS1 databar need to have their label manufacturer (printer) supply a databar label for testing, to make sure they can be scanned. Once tested, GS1 will provide a GS1 Australia Barcode Verification Report. It is important to send this final report onto any retail customers, to assure them the fruit sticker will scan at point of sale. (Interim verification reports based on the testing of digital files are not accepted by retailers.) Click here for more information and access to the Barcode Check form.

Freshcare transition from FSQ4 to FSQ4.1

Participating Businesses should be transitioning their Freshcare Food Safety & Quality system requirements from Edition 4 (FSQ4) to Edition 4.1 (FSQ4.1) prior to undertaking an audit this year. Read more.

Tristate: cold snap gets frosty reception. 11/6/2020.

Growers in South Australia's Riverland have seen temperatures drop to -5 degrees Celsius about 200 kilometres north-east of Adelaide, with the Bureau of Meteorology having recorded the state's coldest temperature at -5.8 degrees Celsius in Gluepot. Read more in MSN.

Victorian ag workforce plan funding. 10/6/2020.

The Victorian Government’s Agriculture Workforce Plan includes recruitment support, and financial support for worker relocation and transport, induction, retraining and business adaptation. Visit Working for Victoria. There’s also support for business adaptation (between $10,000-$300,000) to cover up to 50% of costs for COVID-19 required changes. Read more.

Enhancing Australia’s bee pest surveillance. 10/6/2020.

Enhancements to the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program have included upgrading catch boxes, investigating better options for Asian honey bee specific catch boxes, and targeted floral sweep netting. Read more.

Still room for global growth. 9/6/2020.

Australian-based Monica Bratuti, from Turners International (New Zealand), told the FruitBox podcast that a relative lack of market penetration in some major consumer markets means there’s still room to grow for avocados globally. Find the podcast links in Eurofruit.

Hort Innovation seeking director nominations. 5/6/2020.

One (1) Director candidate will be elected to the Board by Voting Members at the Annual General Meeting in November 2020, and two (2) Director candidates will be appointed by the remaining Board members immediately following the AGM. Applications close 6 July. Read more.

WA: water quality funding on south coast. 4/6/2020.

The WA Government will provide $7 million over four years to improve water quality in three south coast estuaries, including Torbay. Read more.

Ag encouraged to check JobKeeper eligibility. 3/6/2020.

Much to the surprise of many, family farming enterprises are qualifying for the federal government's JobKeeper payment scheme. Late enrolments will still be accepted before 30 June. Read more in Stock Journal and find out more from the ATO about the basic and alternative turnover test here.

Next gen on-board at CQ packhouse. 1/6/2020.

“As a parent to think that your child might want to choose to do what you’re doing is just a wonderful feeling; they bring a completely different perspective,” says Annaleise Donovan, Don’s Fort. Read more in Bundaberg Now.

ATO scam alert. 05/2020.

The ATO reports scammers are calling random Australians, posing as the tax office and requesting banking details to allow for the processing of JobKeeper payments. If your staff are covered by JobKeeper, please let them know this is a scam. Read more.

Costa group leader standing down. 29/5/2020.

Costa Group chief executive Harry Debney is retiring after 10 years at the helm, in a new era of leadership at the fruit and vegetable grower. Read more in inside FMCG.

Rural life not as active as you think. 28/5/2020.

Only 52% of rural populations in Australia meet physical activity guidelines, according to a University of Sydney study. Read more from the University of Sydney.

Click here for a round up of international avocado news

US/Spain: new rootstock and scion testing. 11/6/2020.

The $2.25m project is between UC Riverside and Eurosemillas. From the Californian side, the aim is to test rootstocks with Hass and other scions, to find new varieties that yield more than Hass, are more tolerant to environmental stress, and can be produced reliably under high-density planting systems. Read more in FreshPlaza.

COVID-19: Peru reassures customers about safety. 4/6/2020.

Strict food safety measures have been implemented as Peruvian avocado producers prepare to pack and ship up to 200 million pounds of fruit to the US this year, according to the Peruvian Avocado Commission. Read more in The Packer.

COVID-19: US market expects stable prices. 1/6/2020.

Forecast strong domestic demand means the Californian avocado industry will keep its focus at home, rather than on its new Chinese market in 2020. Read more in Asiafruit. And the sales of bagged avocados (ie, not handled by other shoppers) is also rising. Read more in The Packer.

South Africa downgrades export estimates. 1/6/2020.

The country is now expecting to export 14 million 4kg cartons, down from a pre-season estimate of 18.5 million cartons. Read more in Fresh Fruit Portal.

Apeel gets star-power backing. 31/5/2020.

A Californian startup that pioneered a high-tech solution to reducing food waste has secured personal investment from Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry in its latest fundraising drive. Read more from Brinkwire.

COVID-19: 100% infection at some US farms. 29/5/2020.

One farm in Tennessee distributed Covid-19 tests to all of its workers after an employee came down with the virus. It turned out that every single one of its roughly 200 employees had been infected. Read more from Bloomberg.

Westfalia increases Peruvian production. 29/5/2020.

The multinational Westfalia Fruit Group has increased its Hass avocado shipments in recent years and expects to export 33,000 tons of fruit this year from with Peru. Read more in Produce News.

COVID-19: lessons for South African growers. 28/5/2020.

A s the South African economy deals with the various lockdown levels, more lessons become apparent about the fragile links that enable the various sectors to trade and operate. Read more in Farmers Weekly.

COVID-19: Calavo packhouse oubreak contained. 27/5/2020.

The brunt of a COVID-19 outbreak that infected 44 people at a Santa Paula packinghouse and may have exposed at least 94 more people has passed, public health officials say. Read more in the VC Star. Meanwhile, Calavo has reported a flat second quarter.

Your round up of export news that matters

Hort Innovation launches COVID-19 trade hub

The hub includes top-level insights, business tools and country updates, collated by Hort Innovation’s international trade team. Find it here.

New export fees and charges on hold. 11/6/2020.

The introduction of new export fees and charges for the fresh produce sector have been delayed indefinitely. Avocados Australia was among the industry bodies to argue against the increase (which could have increased some charges by up to 277%). Read more at AHEIA.

Australia signs strategic partnership with India. 5/6/2020.

While there is currently no access to India for fresh Australian avocados, trade links between Australia and India continue to develop, most recently with the signing of a comprehensive strategic partnership. Read more.

Colombia’s first shipment to China departs. 29/5/2020/

Colombia’s first shipment of Hass avocados to China is due to arrive in Shanghai on 29 June. Read more in Asiafruit.

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Have you recently read a story of interest to your fellow avocado industry members? Email our Communications Manager. Please note, suggested content will be selected for use based on our editorial standards.

Check our calendar for more!

PMA-ANZ goes online for State of the Industry

PMA-ANZ is presenting its annual State of the Industry Report via webinar this year, with a panel of experts including the organisation’s CEO Darren Keating, Coles General Manager Fresh Produce Craig Taylor, ANZ Head of Food, Beverage and Agribusiness International Patrick Vizzone and Ernst & Young Economics, Regulation and Policy Partner Ruth Ahchow. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 17 June from 10am (AEST). You can read more and register by clicking here.


Hort Innovation Insights: upcoming webinar

With a focus on the foodservice sector, this webinar will reveal the extent of impacts caused by COVID-19 for horticulture industries and provide perspectives on current indicators for the scale of sector recovery and the new normal for foodservice. This webinar will be held from 1pm (AEST) on Thursday, 18 June. The presenters will be Hort Innovation Head of Data & Insights Adam Briggs and Martin Kneebone, Managing Director at Freshlogic. Register by clicking here.


Avocado webinars now available online

Did you miss the Tristate or Central New South Wales Regional Forum? These online events were recorded and you can find the videos, handouts and presentations in the BPR Library, in the Event Proceedings. For Tristate, the guest speaker was Spanish researcher, Dr Inaki Hormaza, whose work is around understanding flowering and maximising fruit set, watch the video. For Central New South Wales, Craig Maddox and Ruth Huwer from NSW DPI provided an update on spotting bug management, watch the video.



17 Jun – PMA-ANZ State of the Industry (webinar)

18 Jun – Hort Innovation Insights (webinar)

29 Jul – North Queensland Regional Forum (webinar)

17 Nov – Asiafruit Congress, Singapore

18-20 Nov – Asia Fruit Logistica, Singapore



7-9 Jun – Hort Connections, Brisbane Q

21-23 Jun – Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, Gold Coast Q

Horticulture Innovation Australia
Guacamole has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the avocado research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.