Advisory Panel prioritises R&D levy funded projects

On Thursday 2 May, the Production R&D and Market Development panels had a joint meeting to consider and prioritise 23 R&D funded investments for FY 24/25. The combined market development and production R&D panel group of 18 members provided information and the opportunity to ask questions on each investment. Panel members were then asked to individually prioritise each investment on it’s merits, level of investment and alignment to the strategic investment plan. The collated results will be used to guide Hort Innovation in the development of the annual investment plan which will outline the project investments for the upcoming financial year.

The Avocado Strategic Investment Plan is available to all industry members on the Hort Innovations website, along with the current Avocado Annual Investment Plan which outlines the project investments for FY23/24.

To support the panel in considering the strategic alignment, Hort Innovation provided an analysis of the current and past projects in regard to the current 2021-2026 Avocado Strategic Investment Plan. The graph below indicates the broad allocation of funds for each key strategic outcome:

If you would like further information on the Hort Innovation levy investment advisory process or more information about the current investments please contact Gemma Burger on 0458 650 876 or email gemma.burger@horticulture.com.au

 

 

 


This article appeared as part of the Guacamole enewsletter – 20 May 2024 issue.

RD&E Projects Update – Irregular Bearing Project (AV23014)

Workshop and Roadmap for the way forward for Irregular Bearing (AV23014)

The irregular bearing workshop and roadmap project is a Hort Innovation avocado levy-funded initiative aiming to provide strategic direction for subsequent industry investments, specifically focused on improving the management of irregular and alternate bearing.

Identified as a high-priority area for practice change in the ‘Australian Avocado Industry Extension Strategy 2023-2027 – Transition to 2027’, the management of irregular and alternate bearing have a range of causal factors that can differ with production regions, which extend from Far North Queensland to South West Western Australia.

Led by Wilkie Horticulture with support from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Queensland, the project will have a duration of six months, culminating in the development of an irregular and alternate bearing R, D&E Roadmap.

The process for developing the Roadmap has several stages. First, a project reference group will be set up to guide the project activities. The project will then collect information on growers perceptions and practices around irregular and alternate bearing through a grower survey. The project will also undertake a literature review on alternate and irregular bearing in avocado and other tree crops. The information from the survey and literature review will be presented at the Workshop and used in the Roadmap development. An expression of interest (EOI) will be used to select growers and consultants for attendance at the workshop, at which a range of presentations, discussion sessions and co-design sessions will occur and be used to develop the Roadmap. Following the Workshop, industry will be given the chance to provide feedback on the draft Roadmap through a subsequent one-day feedback session in Western Australia, webinars and written responses.

Specific project activities are outlined as follows:

All the activities will be communicated with a project reference group (PRG). Members will provide feedback to the project team on the draft surveys, the Workshop design and planning, and the Roadmap. We welcome input from the entire industry and encourage everyone to participate in the surveys. For further information, please feel free to reach out to the project lead, Dr John Wilkie (wilkiejd01@optusnet.com.au).

This workshop and roadmap for the way forward for irregular bearing has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the avocado research and development levy, contributions from the Australian Government and co-investment from the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.


This RD&E Project Update is part of the 19 April 2024 issue of the Guacamole enewsletter.

NQ Shepard Season – Staying ahead of the game

 

 

The issues

The North Queensland Shepard harvest is facing some key challenges and opportunities in relation to fruit quality.  Your actions now can limit and even negate these impacts.

Continuous wet weather in December and January, and dealing with a double fruit set, are the key challenges.

The prolonged wet weather means that rots are more likely because orchard sprays were probably less effective than normal. Also waterlogging has caused poorer tree health which impacts fruit robustness.

These points were reiterated by representatives from Costa Group, Rockridge Fresh and The Avolution at the recent Pre-season NQ and CQ Quality Webinar hosted by AV22011 project. A number of opportunities to manage the challenges were discussed.

Your actions 

Being proactive even before picking starts can keep you ahead of the game.

Retention samples

Taking representative fruit samples on a block basis and allowing them to ripen at 20°C before assessing rot levels provides valuable insights and can help inform your harvest and marketing plans.  It’s recommended to continue to keep library trays as the season progresses for the same reasons.

Maturity testing

Plan before you pick. Sampling fruit by block and conducting maturity testing again provides evidence useful for determining when and where to commence harvesting.  This is even more critical because of the double fruit-set in North Queensland.  For maturity testing instructions refer to the Maturity and Dry Matter Testing guide located on the BPR.

Maturity monitoring during February 2023 found that 30% of North Queensland Shepard were below the maturity standard. Immature fruit are more prone to developing post-harvest rots and disorders. The sale of immature fruit also causes poor consumer eating experience and leads to them abandoning avocado purchases for weeks. Continue to monitor maturity after you commence harvest.

Don’t mix fruit from sick trees with healthy

Excessive rain has caused waterlogging and individual and patches of sick trees. The robustness of their fruit is compromised. Avoid mixing fruit from sick trees with fruit from healthy trees. Increase your picker supervision where possible.

Post-harvest treatment and dispatch temperature

If a post-harvest fungicide is registered for your market, ensure that it is applied effectively (e.g. within 24 hours of picking).

Ensure your dispatch temperature for Shepard is 7°C.  Insist that transport arrives pre-cooled and set temperature is maintained at 7°C. Use a “real-time” temperature logger in your consignments if there are doubts about the effectiveness of the cool chain.

Minimising time in the supply chain

Retail monitoring data shared on the Pre-season NQ and CQ Quality Webinar show that fruit taking 10-15 days from packing to purchase at retail may have up to 2% rots, while 25-day old fruit had 16% rots. Pick and pack to order to prevent fruit from sitting around somewhere in the supply chain and losing shelf-life.

Regularly talk with your marketers and ripeners

Share your knowledge on expected fruit behaviour with your marketers so that they can target the best outlets for fruit of varied robustness to maximise consumer experience.  Seeking feedback from the other end of the supply chain will also provide you with insights on how measures you are taking are working to enhance quality.

Wait the required time after rain

Picking wet fruit decreases fruit quality, both internally and externally. Wet fruit are more susceptible to mechanical abrasion and lenticel damage, which promotes the development of postharvest rots. After heavy rain (>20mm in 12 hours) delay harvest for 48 hours. After any rain (<20mm in 12 hours) delay harvest for 24 hours. The roll test may also be used on Shepard fruit depending on the skin texture of your samples.

For further information on supply chain quality monitoring contact John Agnew from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (john.agnew@daf.qld.gov.au) or Anne Larard (idm@avocado.org.au) from Avocados Australia.


This article appears as part of the 8 February 2024 edition of Guacamole (AAL’s enewsletter).

Australian Avocados Marketing Update 2024

About the marketing program

This is the latest marketing activity that’s helping Aussie consumers connect with (and eat!) Australian avocados. The industry’s marketing is managed by Hort Innovation and funded by the avocado marketing levy. Hort Innovation develops consumer-focused promotions using a variety of mediums including social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as targeted partnerships with consumer-related publications and platforms.

Keep scrolling to see more great marketing activity in 2024.  And, if you are chasing some delicious avocado recipes, check out Australian Avocados.


Australian Avocados and Tassal team up for the month of May! – 29 April 2024

Australian Avocados and Tassal Salmon have partnered in retail for the month of May to drive sales of Australian Avocados. The co-investment will include front of store screens for 100 stores, fresh magazine advertorial (as pictured), Magnetic landscape tickets, recipe cards, Online search optimisation and recipe inspiration across deli screens between 8 May and 14 May ahead of mothers day.


Shepard avocado tricks boost engagement on Socials – 19 April 2024


FruitNerd drives up engagement on Socials!

@FruitNerd generated a spike in Australian Avocados social engagement recently with his informative post about Shepard avocados. The trick to avocados that stay green? Using a Shepard avocado! This handy tip highlighted the fact that Shepard avocados don’t oxidise as fast as Hass avocados “making them perfect for salads, sandwiches and other meals” said Thanh Truong aka FruitNerd. Access the Insta posts here: https://www.instagram.com/australianavocados/


Shepard avocado recipes feature on Socials – 5 April 2024

Australian avocados have partnered with a chef, Luke Hines, to create easy and delicious Shepard Avocado recipes that highlight a Shepard’s unique product benefits across social media and encourage consumers to add Shepard avocados to their baskets, this season. Have you seen this delicious Shepard Avocado Supergreens Salad or the Shepard Avocado Smoothie posted by the Australian Avocado team? Social media is just one of three activities on in April, the Australian Avocado marketing campaign is also live across the Out-of-Home and Shopper channels.


Australian Avocados post goes viral – Mystery Avo King revealed! – 7 March 2024

Recently Australian Avocados shared a video showing a man at the AFL eagerly eating a whole avocado. The post went viral (the Instagram post achieved more than 20,000 views) and an extensive search resulted in identifying the man as Joe Romero, the owner of the Tower Hotel in Hawthorn in Victoria. Joe, also now known as the “Avo King”, was amazed at the attention and admitted to being a lover of avocados. Australian Avocados embraced the PR opportunity with Joe agreeing to appear on the Today Show (see the interview HERE). The story also appeared in the Herald Sun, on 3AW radio and online (including via a podcast). In all there were 11 pieces of earned coverage with a potential reach of over 14 million Australians. Thanks Joe!


Weekend Sunrise champions Shepard avocados! – 7 March 2024


Shepard avocados were championed on the Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise breakfast program on the first weekend in March 2024. North Queensland Shepard avocado grower, Michael Coulson our Shepard avocados spokesperson, promoted the benefits of Shepard avocados to presenter, JT (James Tobin). The Weekend Sunrise program included a cooking demonstration with Zoe Bingley-Pullin making Baja Shepard avocado wraps and smoothies. The program even showed people eating the Shepard avocado wraps and smoothies. In all it was a great promotion for Shepard avocados. The program showed a lovely morning at Bondi, with everyone enjoying the Shepard avocado recipes. All of the Shepard avocado spokespeople were “on message” and encouraged Aussies to purchase Shepard avocados.

The Shepard avocado coverage appeared in six clips whereby each clip was syndicated 44 times, resulting in a reach of 1.9 million+.

Go online to see a video clip featuring Shepard spokesperson and NQ Grower Michael Coulson here: https://youtu.be/7YBuReIPuXc

See the video clip featuring JT and Zoe Bingley-Pullin making Baja Shepard avocado wraps and smoothies here: https://youtu.be/6obc1l-NIHs

See the latest marketing plans & access Domestic marketing reports

All through March, all channels are on to support Shepard marketing.  This includes social marketing, Out-Of-Home, Shopper and PR. Best Practice Resource users can access the current Domestic Marketing Update for January to March AND the Domestic Marketing Update for April to June 2024 by clicking HERE (after logging in to the BPR you will land on the Library webpage, look under “Marketing Reports”).


Australian Avocados – Domestic Marketing Update – 23 Feb 2024

This week Australian Avocados Instagram content has been highlighting the health benefits of eating avocados. It provides consumer education while working to own everyday meal occasions. The social post states avocados are “high in nutrients that are essential for the health of our immune system”. Consumers are encouraged to eat avocados “for a fighting fit immune system”. A great reason for consumers to include avocados in everyday meal occasions!

Find Australian Avocados on Instagram HERE.


Australian Avocados – Domestic Marketing Update – 8 Feb 2024

Australian Avocados’ ‘always on’ media approach is at work supporting three pillars: CONNECT, EDUCATE and INSPIRE. That is: 1) Cementing the core proposition locally, 2) providing retailer, shopper and consumer education, and 3) Owning everyday meal occasions. Social, Out-Of-Home and Shopper channels are in play with Hass Avocado creative and Shepard Avocado creative running all of February. Inspirational recipe imagery will be paired with messaging focused on usage and the unique product benefits of each varietal. An overview of the Marketing Plan is available on the Best Practice Resource HERE (login to the BPR then be directed to the Library webpage look under “Marketing Reports”).

 

Australian Avocados – Domestic Marketing Update – 12 Jan 2024

Shepard Campaign Overview

Marketing activity is set to continue across all channels from Jan-March 2024 in line with the Australian Avocados ‘always on’ media approach. The 2024 Shepard campaign is planned to launch from 18 Feb on social media and PR channels, with shopper and out of home activations to launch from 25 Feb. The media strategy will continue to connect, educate and inspire consumers to use Australian Avocados across everyday meal occasions. An overview of the Shepard Plan is available on the Best Practice Resource HERE (login to the BPR then be directed to the Library webpage look under “Marketing Reports”).

 


Tap into the OnFarm Connectivity Program

The Australian Government’s OnFarm Connectivity Program (OFCP) has been initiated with $30 million available over two years to support primary producers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries adopt connected machinery and sensor technology.

Primary producers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries can access a 50% rebate of the cost of eligible equipment, including installation and training, with grants of between $3,000 and $30,000 (excluding GST). The OFCP covers digital technologies such as water flow and pressure monitors, monitoring systems and pump controllers as well as associated connectivity equipment. Applications for Round 1 are open now and rebates will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first come, first served basis in order of application receipt. $15 million is available to 30 June 2024, or until funding is exhausted.

Check out this webinar to learn how you can access rebates to boost connectivity and digital tech within your business. In this practical 1-hour webinar, you’ll discover:

  • How to apply for the rebate funding of 50% of connectivity equipment and installation costs
  • Eligibility criteria for the program
  • Real-world examples of equipment covered by the rebate
  • Guidance from experts on choosing the right tech for your operation

Be sure to check out the Regional Tech Hub which offers independent advice and support and helps regional Australians negotiate often confusing connectivity issues. This is a free service funded through the Australian Government’s Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity funding package and developed by the National Farmers’ Federation, working in collaboration with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

You can call the Regional Tech Hub on 1300 081 029 or book an appointment through their website to discuss your queries.


This article appears as part of the 8 December 2023 issue of Guacamole.

Domestic avocado supply chain monitoring back in action

Supply chain quality monitoring recommenced last month as part of the AV22011 project which is delivering a range of project services to increase the proportion of avocado samples that meet industry quality standards. The supply chain quality monitoring component of the project is separate to the retail quality monitoring component. Supply chain samples are being collected from wholesalers and ripening distribution centres, and assessed following a normal commercial ripening program, as well as following a 14-day storage challenge*.  

Results from this monitoring are then presented to the supplying packhouse to provide information on fruit quality outcomes under normal supply conditions, as well as under the upper limit of best practice ‘time in the supply chain’ conditions. Approximately 75 domestic avocado supply chains will be monitored each year. The monitoring re-started in early-November, and fruit is currently being sampled from Tristate and Western Australia. 

Results under normal commercial conditions

The average results for all 24 standard samples to date are that 88% met the industry quality standard (i.e. at least 90% of fruit have less than 10% damage). The average time spent in the domestic supply chain was 16 days. The main quality defect observed was body rots. The likely causes of body rots in these samples include ineffective orchard fungicides, absence of a post-harvest fungicide, poor temperature management, wet harvesting, poor field hygiene, and high N:Ca levels in fruit.  When standard sample results fall below the quality standard the AV22011 project team work with the packer and supplying grower to conduct a traceback to try and determine the cause of poor quality and suggest possible solutions. 

Results under challenged commercial conditions

The results of the challenged samples tests are showing supplying packhouses how this same fruit has been able to hold up with an additional 14 days of storage. To date 62% of challenge samples have been able to continue to meet the quality standard. The challenged sample fruit that failed to meet the industry quality standard suffered mainly or exclusively from diffuse discolouration (refer image below). These samples averaged 30 days in the supply chain. Storing fruit for longer than 14 days even at recommended temperatures (5oC for Hass) can cause diffuse discolouration.  

For further information on supply chain quality monitoring contact John Agnew from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (john.agnew@daf.qld.gov.au) or Anne Larard (idm@avocado.org.au) from Avocados Australia.

*Normal (standard) commercial conditions = collected post-ripening, held at 20oC, and assessed at med-soft ripe)
Challenged commercial conditions = addition of ~14 days additional cold storage before ripening, held at 20oC, and assessed at med-soft ripe)


This article appears as part of the 8 December 2023 issue of Guacamole.

Content to share – Australian avocado quality insights

Welcome

Thanks for clicking through for more information about avocado quality monitoring here in Australia. This article content and images (click to open without text overlay) have been developed for you to share in digital and print communications you have with your stakeholders, on behalf of the Australian avocado industry’s Monitoring avocado supply chain quality project (AV22011).

Each edition will contain timely insights for wholesalers, marketers and independent retailers. Article content will be focused on opportunities for driving improved returns for retailers through increased purchase size and frequency of Australian avocados.

Articles are designed so that they can be added together into one feature under the first heading when this is suitable for your communications platforms.

Samples of independent retailer displays suggest 83% of avocado purchases would result in a satisfied customer

Avocado industry quality monitoring results reported earlier this year, identified a large variation in the proportion of acceptable (less than 10% damaged flesh) fruit at different retailers.

A large opportunity for independent retailers to increase repeat purchases and to leverage the strong Australian avocado supply was identified, with 83% of avocado purchases at independent stores sampled being classed as acceptable in comparison to around 90% acceptability at major retailers.

Independent retailers had slightly more firm-ripe and ripe fruit in comparison to major retailers, and this could explain the slightly poorer quality at independent stores. Softer fruit had more bruising and rots, which implies that firmer fruit should be sold at retail. However, consumers demand ready to eat fruit, so there is a clear trade-off between sales, and quality. Providing ripe fruit at stages 3-4, rather than stage 5 ripe and ensuring fruit is not stacked on top of each other on display, assists reducing flesh bruising.

Previous research has shown that consumers squeeze more fruit if it is difficult for them to find one at the preferred ripeness stage. Uniformly ripe fruit should therefore be displayed – including a split display of fruit which clearly differentiates the two available stages of ripeness for consumers.

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Industry project to monitor quality providing key services

A new industry quality monitoring project is now underway to continue to provide valuable insights to all supply chain stakeholders about opportunities to increase Australian avocado sales through improved quality.

Fruit quality will be monitored in major and independent retail stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and maturity monitored at the wholesale market. Detailed, timely feedback on quality will be provided to the supplying packhouse, and deidentified reports will be provided to retailers sampled.

Independent retailers are encouraged to be proactive in addressing quality concerns raised in assessment reports provided. If you need assistance identifying the potential cause of issues, you can email quality@avocado.org.au and our expert team will assist you.

It is great to see some independent retailers utilising these reports on their displays to give consumers confidence in the quality of avocados available for purchase at their store.

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August to October 2023 overall quality excellent – Check the results!

Fruit quality across all retailers has continued to improve in October, with 98% acceptable fruit, up from 91% in September. Retail monitoring in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth has shown consistently high quality between cities. All growing regions have met or exceeded the industry’s 90% acceptable fruit target.

Bruising was the only cause for unacceptable fruit and has fallen below the 12-month average. This reduction in bruising could be attributed to a shift in fruit ripeness, with a 20% increase in average firmness at purchase. The average fruit age has remained consistent, with a slight drop to 14 days from pack to purchase. Retailers can explore the detailed results in Retail Quality section of Best Practice Resource (BPR) on the Avocados Australia website.

Access the resources available!

Register for access to the BPR to explore further reports and insights including maturity monitoring reports (dry matter %) for recent months. All recent reports are also explained further in a webinar presentation on quality results over the last few months (scrub to 28m:50s). Maturity monitoring has concluded for 2023 and will recommence with the start of the Shepard season in January 2024.

Acknowledgement

This page content has been prepared by the Monitoring avocado supply chain quality project (AV22011). This project is managed by Avocados Australia, has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the avocado industry research and development levy, with co-investment from Avocados Australia, Applied Horticulture Research, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and contributions from the Australian Government.

Please contact the Avocado Quality Project Team on quality@avocado.org.au for more information.

 

Avocados Australia Limited tests biosecurity protocols

The response to detections of new plant pests in Australia that could adversely affect Australian avocado growers remains a key focus of Avocados Australia Ltd (AAL). Recently key stakeholders came together to test Avocados Australia’s biosecurity protocols.

Responses to the detection of these pests are managed in accordance with the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (‘the EPPRD’).  The EPPRD is a legally binding agreement made between Plant Health Australia (PHA), the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, and plant industry signatories.  The EPPRD addresses the management and funding of responses to emergency plant pest incidents, including the potential for owner reimbursement costs for growers.  Notifications of new pest detections under the EPPRD are considered carefully by AAL as a signatory to the Deed.

To support industry preparedness, Avocados Australia (AAL) in partnership with PHA has developed a Biosecurity Incident Standard Operating Procedure (BISOP) under the Hort Innovation project ‘Avocado Industry Biosecurity Strategy 2022 – 2026’ that clearly documents the ‘what, how, when and why’ in responding to exotic pest detections that could impact Australian avocado growers.

The AAL BISOP and its underlying decision-making processes were recently tested on 25 October 2023 as part of a scenario-based emergency plant pest detection response exercise – ‘Exercise Proteger’.  Participants included all AAL Board members, AAL CEO John Tyas, Grant Telford (Biosecurity Strategy Project Manager), Anna Petrou (AAL Communications Manager) and Louise Dunker (AAL Finance Manager).  The exercise was facilitated by Naomi Wynn (PHA Learning and Development Manager) and Susanna Driessen (PHA General Manager of Emergency Response).

Learnings from the exercise will be used to refine AAL’s BISOP further.

Also of note, AAL’s new Board Director Chip Saint has taken on the role of National Management Group representative under the Deed, and we would like to thank Tristate Board Director Kym Thiel for his prior service in this role.


This article is part of the Guacamole enewsletter issued on 10 November 2023.

Production RD&E Advisory Panel meet for Avocado Ideation Workshop

A revised approach to the identification and creation of relevant and impactful research and development investments for the Australian avocado industry continues to gain momentum.

On the 10 October, the Production RD&E Advisory Panel members, along with guest growers and industry stakeholders from all the major growing regions, gathered in Brisbane for a Hort Innovation avocado investment ideation workshop.

They were charged with the task of providing input for further development of targeted concepts for projects aligned with the Avocado SIP.

The themes for consideration were derived from a range of areas including a SIP gap analysis, outputs from the recent Avocado R&D Forum, recent avocado topic reviews and summits and industry feedback.

The aim of the day was to agree on the strategic direction for a subset of concepts from within the Avocado SIP.

As many industry stakeholders would be aware, the Hort Innovation Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for the avocado industry was developed through a consultation process with levy payers and industry stakeholders in 2022 and forms the guide for investment of the avocado industry levy.

During the recent ‘reset and refresh’ process initiated by Hort Innovation, the avocado industry advice mechanism underwent some changes, including the formation of a Production Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Advisory Panel which has a key focus on production investments.

These investments align predominantly (but not exclusively) with Outcomes 2, 3 and 4 within the SIP:

  • Outcome 2 – Industry supply, productivity and sustainability: Improve industry productivity (inputs/outputs) to increase local and international competitiveness, while maintaining viability and sustainability of supply.
  • Outcome 3 – Extension and capability: Building capability and innovative culture
  • Outcome 4 – Business insights Improved decision-making in the Australian avocado industry through the use of consumer knowledge and tracking, trade data, production statistics and forecasting, and independent reviews.

With a keen focus to align RD&E investment with industry strategic priorities and be responsive to industry needs, this panel seeks to prioritise levy investments in order to deliver value to growers across the industry.

The day was a collaborative event with a strong feeling of shared goals. A range of concepts were fleshed out to articulate key challenges and desired outcomes.

From the outputs of the ideation, the Hort innovation R&D team will further consult with industry and researchers to scope recommendations for investments which will be brought forward to the Production RD&E Advisory Panel for consideration at the next advice meeting in December.

An outline of how the ideation process connects with the flow of research problems and opportunities through to projects is illustrated in this schematic here.


This article appears as part of the 27 October 2023 issue of the Guacamole enewsletter.

Reducing the impact of departure temperature on fruit quality

Increases in supply chain times may occur in coming months with consistently high supply and the potential for disruptions to logistics. Increased storage time in the supply chain can occur both prior to and post ripening and lead to higher fruit age. 

The impact of longer supply chains on fruit quality can be considerable depending on the pack shed departure temperatures of consignments. Previous supply chain project (AV18000) identified that packhouse departure temperatures are generally not meeting best practice recommendations (5°C for Hass and 7°C for Shepard) for 76% of samples. Average departure temperatures have ranged from 9 to 11°C in recent years (Figure 1 below).

Relatively short avocado supply chains of less than 2 weeks can mask the impact of less-than-ideal consignment temperatures, but once the market conditions see fruit age increase, fruit defects increase markedly (Figure 2 below). 

a) Good quality fruit when ripened upon arrival in market
b) Reduced quality when fruit is held for an extra 2 weeks in market before ripening  

Ensuring fruit leaves the packhouse at the recommended temperature sets the scene for the rest of the journey.  Refrigerated trucks are not designed to pull the temperature down if the fruit is loaded too warm. 

Real-time data loggers, suitable for monitoring product temperature and location in domestic supply chains, can cost as little as $50. The information they can provide can enable you to monitor and manage your consignments with your marketers. Fruit that may have reduced shelf life due to poorer temperature management can be pushed through to retail as a priority, ensuring it reaches the consumer in optimum condition. 

Within the supply chain component of the new Monitoring Avocado Supply Chain Quality (AV22011) project, avocado consignments will be sampled and handled in two ways: 

  • Standard treatment – Taken from the commercial ripener and kept at 20°C until medium-soft ripe before quality assessment.  
  • Challenge treatment – Taken from wholesaler, stored for 14 days at the recommended temperature, commercially ripened and held at 20°C until medium-soft ripe before quality assessment. 

The Challenge treatment will provide valuable insights into what happens to fruit quality when supply chains are delayed. Where issues are identified, the in-region project staff will be able to provide traceback services and management advice to assist growers and packers to identify methods to improve fruit quality. 

For further information on supply chain quality monitoring please contact John Agnew from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (john.agnew@daf.qld.gov.au) or Anne Larard (idm@avocado.org.au) from Avocados Australia. 


This article appears as part of the Guacamole 27 October 2023 enewsletter.