New Zealand Jazz, Braeburn apple growers seek ways to improve export returns
The double-edged sword of low export returns and a weak dollar have both Braeburn and Jazz apple growers looking to organize groups for each variety in order to move with more cohesion as an industry and get their concerns heard, according to local daily Nelson Mail.
In the case of the Braeburn apple variety, growers are planning to sign a code of conduct designed to avoid a repeat of 2010 “shambolic” marketing that saw a drop in prices and industry losses.
The move comes ahead the 2011 apple season, which is expected to produce a larger crop than last year. This year saw its smallest volume of exports to Europe in a decade, but even with low quantities of the fruit, prices still sank far below profitable levels, the report said.
The agreement looks to organize growers in a way that apple sizes would be matched with demand in receiving markets. This would mean more fruit, particularly bigger sizes, being processed for juice and apple slices, Pipfruit NZ chairman Ian Palmer was quoted as saying.
To achieve this, growers will sign a “voluntary but binding” agreement in coming weeks.
Growers look to avoid a repeat of this season, when poor returns that saw some receive as little as NZD$9 a carton, with the average of NZ $17 still below the NZ $20 cost of production, Palmer said.
JAZZ LOOKS TO NEW LOBBY
Braeburn is not the only variety that has brought back disappointing returns. The Jazz apple has also performed poorly.
The marketing rights for the Jazz variety is owned by Turners & Growers through Enza. Despite focused marketing campaigns in Europe and a profile that attracts premium prices, growers have been dismayed with its performance abroad, which this year brought losses on average of NZ $5 a tray, the report said.
Growers, fed up the situation, have now started to organize themselves in order to unify their voice when dealing with Enza. Growers say that while currency exchange rates are partly responsible for losses, the hefty investment in publicity is also to blame.
So far some 40 growers have united, and the group has support from NZ Pipfruit, whose chairman, Ian Palmer, is overseeing the formation of the group.
"We want to work to get good, sustainable grower returns and understand the marketing and the decisions and be involved more," Palmer is quoted as saying.
Palmer believes that Enza has “shared the pain” with growers, but that better communication and a closer relationship are needed to improve returns.
For its part Enza is open to the new organization, which at this point does not have a formal name.
"Throughout the year, we have had a lot of dialogue with growers and encourage it, and we're certainly not adverse to having input from them,” Turners & Growers director and Enza global varieties development manager Brian D'Ath is quoted as saying.
For the upcoming season some 960,000 to 1.2 million cartons of the Jazz apple are expected.