In this Edition
Spring has certainly 'sprung'- as the saying goes!

After a cooler winter, the balmy spring weather has arrived with a vengeance - just in time for school holidays. Produce retailers tell me that the traditional salad vegetable crops have made a solid return to the shopping basket, and melons have been popular.

So, with Summer just around the corner, we thought it might be prudent to preview some of the exotic fruits that will be available soon and spoke to Josh Taylor of Top Crop lychees. Josh, who doesn't mind a chat, gave us a real insight into the lychee business. Make sure you look out for his product when it start to arrive at Pershouse Produce in November.

We are also featuring our Administration Team from 'C' Block at the Brisbane Markets. These ladies are a terrific bunch so make sure you say hello to them next time you are in contact with Pershouse.

And more Brisbane Markets news...this month, Brisbane Markets Limited proudly opened the new 'South Gate' development, which is a state-of-the -art distribution hub at Rocklea, adding around 16000m2 of warehousing and office space. The Markets have certainly come a long way since they opened at Rocklea in 1964, with Brisbane leading the way in keeping up with the requirements of industry.

Enjoy your read!

Grower Profile - Josh Taylor, Top Crop Lychees
Who would ever have thought that the exotic Lychee grows like a Gum Tree in its native country of China?

In fact, the commercially grown varieties that we enjoy in Australia are actually “genetic freaks”.

“The beautiful, big Lychees that we enjoy in Australia are really freaks of nature”, says Josh Taylor, of Top Crop Lychees in Mareeba.

“The common varieties seen in China are no bigger than a small cherry and not as sweet.”

Josh’s passion is Lychees. Growers for around 25 years, the Taylors have some 20 acres dedicated to their Lychee crop, growing 5 different varieties of Lychee. Their farm produces around 20,000 kg of Lychees per season, which for the Taylor’s runs a very short 6 – 8 weeks from mid-November through to just before Christmas.

“We like to have our season finished by Christmas – just before the fruit from Central Queensland (Yeppoon and Childers). It gives us an opportunity to get the best out of the season, and not have to worry about finding labour during a traditionally difficult time.” said Josh.

Lychees are a labour intensive crop. The fruit is physically picked into crates taking around one hour to pick the tree. Then, the product is cooled in a cool-room, before being de-stalked. Then the product is graded, packed and cooled for transport.

“This year we are packing the product a little differently. We used to pack our product into 5gk trays, but this year we are moving to a 1/2kg bags in a 12kg tray format, which we believe will be better for retailers and also enable us to cool the fruit more efficiently and keep the fruit in better condition for transport.”

The Taylor’s farm is located 20 minutes north of Mareeba, in a ’frost’ zone which means the Lychee trees produce more flowers and therefore bare more fruit. Being located where they are, the Taylor’s have not had as big a problem with bats as some of their counterparts in the region. Their crop is drape-netted, and while they get a little bit of vermin activity (bats and parrots) it is nowhere near as devastating as some other farms have to endure.

“We are lucky. We have had good growing conditions. The bats are around when we have severe drought conditions, but we haven’t experienced that for a few years. So we have had a fairly constant crop every year.”

“Like many fruit crops, the Lychee is a bit bi-annual and we certainly manage our trees that way. We cut every second line every year making sure we keep our trees to 4m high and 6m high. We need to keep them a manageable size, as our trees grow really well in the sandy, clay loam on our property.”

“Some of the trees on our property are 25 years old. It hasn’t been tested as to when Lychee trees actually lose their functionality in Australian soils. I think somewhere around 40 – 50 years – hopefully I’ll be around to let you know!!”

Julene and Josh manage the farm themselves, and their workforce swells to 15 staff during the picking season. The Taylor’s use mostly labour hire staff – which is becoming increasingly difficult as they are competing with the mines and, of course, other crops during this peak growing season for the region.

“I can’t blame them. My kids work at the mines – the money’s great and the work is far more constant than an 8 week picking season!”

“But I am looking into some newer varieties that are even more efficient – picking wise, than the ones that are traditionally grown, like Taiso and Kwaimay Pink. I grow these varieties, but I am very excited about my new crop of the Kiamana Lychee. The beauty of this tree is that it is a big fruit with a small seed and the fruit comes on at once, meaning the tree only needs to be picked once. My trees are only 2 years old at the moment, and I won’t pick them commercially until they are seven years. But so far they are looking good.”

“Our other variety is ‘top secret’ – but it looks even better – I can’t wait.”

And we can’t wait either.

Staff Profile - Administration Team
Rather than talk about the Sales Team, this month we thought we’d introduce you to part of the ‘nerve centre’ of Pershouse Produce, our ‘C’ block administration team.

While many of you will have talked to one of the girls – Anita, Nola, Dolores or Joanne at some stage, you probably haven’t had the opportunity to get to know them.

They are a great bunch, and really are the engine behind Pershouse Produce. Between them, they manage the bulk of Pershouse’s voluminous amounts of paperwork, all the accounts, and grower liaison. Plus they also play the role of general counselors, mothers and shoulders.

“We have seen a few boys grow up in here. And it is the school of hard knocks – we see it all. So we offer a bit of advice, and we are always up for a joke too. It is a very relaxed and fun working environment. If you don’t have thick-skin, a sense of humour and enjoy working in a washing machine (always on agitation) working at the Markets is not for you!” said Nola Davies, Pershouse’s CHEP and Accounts Payable officer.

This Team has been together since the merger of A.S.Barr and Pershouse nearly three years ago. But, by far, the longest serving member of the team is Anita Nolte (pictured top, right-hand side), who has worked with Peter Kedwell for over 18 years (longer than most marriages – ed!!).

“I started initially at the Markets working with Cominos and Irelands before leaving the Markets for a few years. I then came back to the Markets and worked with Peter at A.S. Barr. And that’s where I stayed!” says Anita.

Anita is responsible for all Pershouse’s liaison with growers – payments and enquiries – a very important person in a grower’s life! Outside the office, when she is not building and shifting houses, Anita and her husband have two girls and enjoy family time together boating and skiing, as well as barbequing and going out to dinner.

Also on our team is Dolores Taylor (pictured top, left-hand side)who has been at the Markets for over 6 years, firstly with A.S Barr and now with Pershouse Produce. Dolores is responsible for all the Brismark accounts and recording our stock .

“I worked in packaging before coming across to Pershouse. The early starts of the Markets I find are better for my family life. Both our children are very active – my son Corey is a representative level cricket and soccer player, and my daughter Lauren is also a keen soccer player. I love sport too and I like to be home to get them to training and camps etc. These hours enable me to do that.” said Dolores.

Nola is a woman with a wicked sense of humour (anyone on her email list will tell you this) and she is responsible for the company’s CHEP account and our accounts payable. Nola (pictured bottom, right-hand side)worked with Woolworths for over 12 years, the later part as State Produce Administration Manager, and then had a 4 year stint in finance as a Loans Manager.

“I knew about the produce industry and so when an opportunity came up at the Markets I jumped at it. I have been working with Pershouse on and off for a couple of years before becoming full-time 2 years ago. I enjoy working in ‘C’ Block. We all know each other very well – it is really important to get on with people you are with constantly – especially with early morning starts which aren’t everyone’s best hour of the day!”

But while we know Nola enjoys her work, her real passion is her family – her husband, children and 5 grandchildren. And, she is a gun birthday cake decorator – which adds to her ‘favourite nanna’ position we’re sure.

“Travelling to Adelaide is a great treat. I adore spending time with the kids – they grow up so fast. I can remember when Joanne was pregnant with her first child, Kerrod. We were both at Woolworths at the time. He is 18 now”
The Joanne our Nola is referring to is none other than our customer relations extraordinaire, Joanne Sticklen. Joanne (pictured bottom, left-hand side) has the toughest job – she has to handle the zoo on the selling floor every morning, and manages to maintain a happy persona all the while.

“Sometimes the boys drive me mad, but they are no worse than my own kids. I have worked in the Markets industry for around 6 yrs – at first with Woolworths as an Assistant Buyer before joining Pershouse 18 months ago. I give as good as I get.”

And, from all accounts, she certainly does that!

South Gate Opens!
The new Brisbane Markets South Gate East building has reached practical completion and tenants are currently in the process of moving in, excited by the prospect of purpose-built, state-of-the-art premises.

Article contributed by Brisbane Market Limited.

The official opening of the 15,500m² building, which represents a $30 million investment in the industry, will occur later this month.

The addition of South Gate East increases the total amount of warehouse space (excluding selling floors) within the Brisbane Markets site by some 15%, with the percentage which is temperature controlled increasing by some 23%.

The floor area of the various structures within the Brisbane Markets' 77-hectare site now totals approximately 150,000m². Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) released its revised Master Plan for the site last December and has a number of other new projects at different stages of the planning and approval process.

BML has also been progressing discussions with the wholesalers' representative organisation, Brismark, regarding the Master Planning process for the overall site which includes plans to redevelop the Central Trading Area.

A project team has been appointed by BML to assist in developing conceptual plans and in gaining feedback from trading floor tenants. This process will be rolled out over the coming weeks.

It is expected to be lengthy as it will look at a diverse array of issues relating to how the fresh product is received, warehoused, marketed and distributed.

Market Overview
Well, what can we say about September? At the time of writing, we have started to see a glimmer of hope on the horizon after what has been a fairly 'flat' month.

A glut of produce on the Market in many lines has seen prices generally at low levels across the board. Perfect growing conditions, and good rain leading up to Spring, have seen most crops flourishing, with a 'steady' demand not meeting the influx of supply.

The exception to this has been watermelons, which have been performing well, and some of the salad crops are starting to pick up, with lettuce tipped to show a little improvement in the next few weeks.

But there is certainly the smell of Summer in the air! Low chill varieties of stonefruit have started to appear, as have the first trays of mangoes out of Northern Territory.

Certainly, with school holidays on the agenda the last few weeks of the month and early in October for southern states, we don't expect to see any great gains until after this time, but look forward to a more optimistic market in the traditional lead-up to Christmas.

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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