In this Edition
Happy New Year! Of course, for most of you January is the busiest time of year, so the New Year cheer ended pretty quickly. No rest for the wicked as they say!!! But this year has been more frantic for many of you, with some challenging weather patterns making a busy time even more hectic.
With rain in Queensland, and extreme heat down south, most growers have really been tested. So in this edition, we have had a brief look at some lines of produce and how they have performed over the Christmas and New Year period.
Our featured growers are the Smith Family from Taminick in Victoria. The Smith’s have been supplying the market through Pershouse Produce for many years with some very fine peaches and nectarines.
And we have also included some information on some important industry events coming up. Be sure to have a look at the details for the 8th Australian Melon Conference and also the Australian Chamber Conference. Both events will be held in South-East Queensland, and Pershouse Produce is a proud supporter of these industry events.

Grower Profile - Smiths of Taminick
As I sat down to eat a peach over summer, my thoughts turned to the production of this delightful fruit and what a challenging time growers have had of late. Indeed, the same thoughts passed through my mind pretty much every time I served up all varieties of fresh produce over summer. If it wasn’t rain, it was heat and it seemed no-one was immune.
So, when I was talking with Andrew Smith, of Smiths of Taminick – one of Australia’s premier summer fruit growers, I asked him how they were dealing with these extremes of weather.
“Look, it has cost a small fortune bringing in water. We have to pump water over 13km so it is an added cost to our production.”
“We have spent an enormous amount of money, time and energy drought proofing our orchards” said Andrew.
“But the upside of that is that we have a farm that is now successfully using bio-diverse practices to not only manage our water resources, but also our plant and soil nutrition programmes, as well as pest management.”
“We make our own compost to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible as well as feed the plants. We aren’t organic farmers, but we are as close as you’ll get.”
The Smith family is an icon in the summer fruit industry in Australia. The family property, based in Taminick, Victoria, has been producing some of Australia’s finest peaches, nectarines and cherries for many years.
Smiths of Taminick have been working with the team at Pershouse for over 25 years.
“We originally were with A.S.Barrs and have worked with Peter Kedwell for many years – a relationship we have continued as A.S.Barrs merged to become Pershouse Produce.
Currently, the farm has 3 generations of Smith’s working the property with parents Alan and Judy and son Andrew, along with his wife Janine, managing the farm, and Andrew and Janine’s children, James and Kate, also lending a hand in the school holidays.
“Janine and I work as a team to manage the production, packaging, food safety and marketing of our fruit” said Andrew.
“Dad (Alan) has moved into more of an administrative role and he, along with Mum (Judy), is heavily involved with the Farmers Markets side of our business. I have been working the farm for over 20 years, but it is still great to have someone with even more experience around to talk things through.”
As a member of the Board of Summer Fruit, Andrew sees many challenges facing the industry. Aside from issues relating to drought, other areas of concern include the abilities of farmers to differentiate their brands in the ‘black crate’ system adopted by major chains, and also the oversupply of product on the domestic market.
“We work hard to produce a quality product. We have a high colour fruit that we take a lot of care to produce, but when you have to package your product as a commodity item for the chains, you lose the ability to reap the rewards of having a known quality brand that the consumer recognizes and prefers.”
“And of course, over production is always an issue. Too much product, and too wide a variety of quality is a big issue for this industry. At consumer level, purchasing stonefruit is easier when most product is of good quality. It builds consumer confidence in the product.”
“But we have been around for many years, so we must be doing something right” added Andrew.
For further information on Smiths of Taminick have a look at their web site

Mango Season in Review
This season’s mango crop has recently been at the centre of much discussion with many column centimeters being devoted to the topic.
Again, the weather has been the source of much heartache for the mango industry. Initially we were seeing some very early fruit from Darwin appearing on the market in August 2007.
Then mixed flowering, storms and difficult growing conditions meant the usual season was late to start, with good marketable quantities of produce not hitting the Markets until November. Storms caused a massive amount of fruit drop in the Northern Territory crops, this meant that any quality fruit was hard to come by and expensive.
Then there was the glut of mangoes hitting the Market as different growing regions overlapped in their supply – the result of one district being late and another early. Again, consistent quality has been an issue particularly over the Christmas holiday period, with many growers from the Atherton Tabelelands electing to leave their fruit on the trees in the hope that prices would increase. Unfortunately, the rain arrived at the same time causing fruit drop.
More recently, we have seen a lot of green fruit and weather affected fruit arriving at the Markets, with any quality product being snapped up early by astute buyers.
So it is little wonder that many growers are feeling the pinch this season with cartons of mangoes reportedly being sold for as little as $4 in Markets down south.
So, I asked Pershouse Produce’s key mango salesmen, David Pershouse, Joint Managing Director of Pershouse Produce, and Chris Georgiou what their take on the season has been so far.
“While there have been a large number of mangoes available to buyers, the quantity of really good fruit is down on last year.” said David. “The weather has been a nightmare for mango growers – as it has been for a lot of produce, and it has been a struggle to get consistently good mangoes”
“We are fortunate enough to work with some great growers, which have enabled Pershouse to supply the Market with excellent quality R2E2 mangoes and Kensington’s. The R2E2’s have performed really well this season and the quality of the fruit has placed it in higher demand.”
“Our main supplies of R2E2’s and Kensington Prides have come from Ruttiman’s in Bowen and Pershouse in Rockhampton.”
“But overall, the season hasn’t been great for mango growers. The quality has been mixed at best, with any good quality produce purchased very quickly. ” said David.
So, I asked Chris how the rest of the season was shaping up.
“Some of the best mangoes we have had this year have come out of Childers in the last few weeks,” said Chris,”and we are expecting some good product to arrive at Pershouse in the next few weeks. Most of these supplies – R2E2’s and Kensington’s - will come from the Phillpot’s in Childers and the Balke family of Gin Gin.”

Banana Market in Better Shape
In response to the poor market performance of bananas at the end of last year, many growers have taken some steps to help lift the prices for bananas at market level.

At the end of last year, there was a glut of bananas that hit the market. Perfect growing conditions meant that some half a million cartons were being delivered to the southern markets each week.

But not only was there an issue with the quantities of bananas, the size of the fruit was deterring consumers at retail level. Many bananas fell into the XXL size category.

“Most people will buy a more standard sizes banana that is around 260mm in length, but the product we were receiving before Christmas was well above that” said Cameron Kedwell.

Cameron, who is Pershouse Produce’s Banana Sales Manager, said that the growers he deals with have responded to both situations.

“Most of the growers I deal with in North Queensland didn’t even cut over the Christmas period as the Market price was just too low.”

“The result of this has been less quantity on the markets in the New Year and prices have come back accordingly. Prices certainly aren’t high, but they have headed back to what would be normally expected at this time of year” said Cameron.

“In addition, the growers are being selective about what they are cutting and sending to market. The size of the fruit is more in line with what consumers want, and I would expect that most of the larger sized fruit is through the system now. This two-pronged attack has certainly made a difference to price levels.”

And it is expected that this situation should hold until at least mid-February.

“I never like to forecast out too far with bananas. You just never know what could happen, and with the way the weather has been, it all depends as much on the crops not being wiped out by a cyclone, which could easily happen at this time year, as it does on the ability of the growers to truck the product to market.” Said Cameron.

“Recent flooding hasn’t made this easy for many growers”

Fruition Conference 2008
Brismark will host one of the major horticulture industry events for the year when it hosts Fruition 2008 – the annual Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries conference.

It has been six years since the event came to Queensland to be hosted by wholesaler service organisation Brismark.

The event, set for 26-28 March 2008, is being held at the Sofitel Brisbane and is expected to draw wholesalers, government representatives from across Australia as well as invited grower and retailer guests

This year’s theme “Fruition - Strength built through success” will help set a path for the continued strength, success and growth of the Central Markets.

Expect a program of industry and business issues, presented by key speakers, with discussions placed under the microscope through the use of a series of panel discussions.

This year retailers are encouraged to get involved with sessions focusing on many of the marketing and consumer based issues that affect them and the wholesaling sector.

Younger industry players get the opportunity to contribute and set the future agenda by participating in the Youth Forum on 26 March that also includes some exciting team building activities.

The conference follows the 2008 Easter break, encouraging participants to bring their families to enjoy a holiday break.

8th Australian Melon Conference March 2008
Participants attending the 8th Australian Melon Conference in March will learn about the latest developments in the melon industry through a range of informative and practical activities. The program includes a field day, visits to customer and supplier businesses, workshops, presentations and trade exhibits. The conference has again received major support from conference gold sponsors Premier Fruits Group, Syngenta and CropCare.

A visit to the main Queensland Woolworths retail and handling operations will be a major attraction of the conference. Included will be a presentation by Woolworths Manager, Michael Batycki. Growers will be able to view a retail store and distribution centre and inspect produce quality, handling, packaging, transport and marketing processes. The Woolworths distribution centre in Brisbane is the company’s most modern facility of its kind in Australia.

There will be an early morning tour of the Brisbane Markets to view trading and selected agents handling melons. The tour of the markets will be followed by a facilitated forum to review issues identified from the market tour including quality, packaging, supply, market customers and trends in preferences for fruit.

The conference also includes a comprehensive presentation and workshop programme covering a wide range of topical issues.

The melon conference will again have a range of trade displays where growers can discuss technology and products with supplier company representatives. In addition to the gold sponsors and companies participating in the conference and field day there is sponsorship and support from the Independent Horticulture Group (IHD), Growcom, NHLIS (National Harvest Trail), Integrated Packaging, Austsafe Super, Nolan’s Transport; Perfection Fresh, T Systems and Yarra Fertilizers.

Further information on sponsorship, advertising, trade displays, exhibits and supporting events is available from Judy Greensill ph: 07 4159 3137, email: For more information on the conference program contact Patrick Logue ph: 07 4153 2555 email: or Gerard Kelly, ph: 03 5019 8400, email:

Here is a list of just some of the produce available right now* at Pershouse Produce

Broad beans
Brussel Sprouts
Butter Beans

Honeydew Melon
Kipfler Potatoes

Okra Beans

Spring Onions
Sth Gold Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

*subject to supply conditions.

If you have a story or article that you think would make a great addition to Fresh Perspective contact;

Laura Koman
Ph: 07 3379 3034

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