Home' Cherry Magazine : Cherry autumn 2018 Contents 19
DRIVING INDUSTRY INNOVATION
n the face of an often-saturated
Australian cherry market, a focus on
post-harvest handling, transport and
packaging will be key to increasing
domestic consumption rates, according
to a report released by 2015 Nuffield Scholar
and NSW cherry grower Tom Eastlake.
Mr Eastlake, from Young in New South
Wales, received a Nuffield Scholarship
supported by Hort Innovation, as part of the
across industry program with matching funds
from the Australian Government.
With domestic cherry production
increasing by 166 per cent between 2008
and 2016, the report explores opportunities
for Australian growers to increase demand
by consistently delivering a more appealing
in-store product for consumers. Mr Eastlake
was motivated to undertake his Nuffield
research as a way of giving back to the
cherry industry, which had offered him
support during a battle with cancer in 2013.
“I was given overwhelming support
and strength from my friends within the
industry during my illness. This kindness
and generosity motivated me to undertake
this research to try and find ways we can
improve and expand the performance of the
cherry industry,” Mr Eastlake said.
Recognising that cherries fall into the
category of ‘impulse buy’ for the majority of
Australian consumers, the report outlines
that getting cherries to retailers in as near-
perfect condition as possible is crucial to
maintaining and growing the consumer base.
“The attitude that a grower’s
responsibility ends at the farm gate needs
to change,” he said. “As growers, we should
Beyond the farm gate:
focus on quality from orchard
to store is key to increasing
demand for cherries.
be continuously looking for improvements
to our post-harvest processes. We need to
be diligent in ensuring that the level of care
we put into growing the fruit is reflected the
whole way through the supply chain.”
His report explores various stages of the
cherry supply chain across North America,
Asia, South America and Europe, finding that
while the Australian industry broadly ranks
customers is also explored in the report.
Mr Eastlake acknowledges the
challenges that cherries present to retailers,
as they are traditionally packaged in large
boxes that customers can rummage through,
squashing and damaging fruit in the process.
“It’s been an ongoing problem for
retailers, but there are ways around it. David
Harris, of Harris Farm Markets, highlighted
RESEARCH REPORT IDENTIFIES
POTENTIAL IMPROVEMENT AREAS
“I WAS GIVEN OVERWHELMING SUPPORT AND STRENGTH FROM
MY FRIENDS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY DURING MY ILLNESS.
THIS KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY MOTIVATED ME TO UNDERTAKE THIS
RESEARCH TO TRY AND FIND WAYS WE CAN IMPROVE AND EXPAND
THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CHERRY INDUSTRY.”
Tom Eastlake, cherry grower and Nuffield scholar
among the better cherry producing nations
of the world, there are clear incremental
improvements to be made.
“A grower could consistently produce
perfect cherries, but that hard work can all
be undone by poor handling, packing and
transport practices. There is some exciting
new picking and packing equipment and
technology coming out of the United States
which provides some clear lessons for the
Australian market,” he said.
The report looks at a Washington-based
company, Monson Fruit, which has installed
a 44-lane sorting and grading machine
that uses high-definition cameras and
computerised defect grading to ensure only
the best product gets through. The machine
also incorporates punnet, carton and bag
packing of the fruit.
“This is a high-tech piece of equipment,
and while it sits at the more extreme end of
the spectrum, it shows what is possible in
terms of best-practice fruit handling,” he said.
The crucial role of packaging and
presentation in winning and retaining
to me that even though there are packaging
and presentation challenges, if the consumer
wants cherries then you need to be
innovative in dealing with the problem.”
To highlight the benefits of innovative
packaging solutions, the report uses the
presentation of premium cherries in Asian
markets as a case study. In South-East Asia,
‘gift packs’ of cherries are a major driver of
consumption and their luxurious packaging
drives acceptance of their high price points.
“Innovative approaches across the
supply chain are needed, and growers need
to partner with the right people who will
respect the produce they provide and work
to ensure that it reaches the consumer in
the best possible state. The diligence and
commitment of Thai retailers (where cherries
are sold at 7-Eleven in 200-gram cups) in
marketing cherries is profound, and sets a
clear example of what can be achieved here
in Australia through incremental change.”
This article is reproduced from
the Nuffield Australia website.
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