Fresh Source Summer 2022

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Your source of fresh information for the fruit and vegetable industry Print post approved pp 100001181 Commemorative magazine of SUMMER 2022 Issue 76 Celebrating 20 years p6 Mango king CROWNED p42 Robust RESULTS FOR BML p14
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MD comment

2022 is a year that shall not be forgotten.

It is the year when Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) celebrates 20 years of ownership and growth of the Brisbane Markets site.

It is the year where we faced a post-health pandemic environment and when the resilience of the markets community was put to the test after a natural disaster.

While challenges abound, at every step of the way we have proven that we are up to the task.

Despite the trials we have faced, BML has continued to achieve the robust results that have been the hallmark of the past 20 years. You can read about these results and our Annual General Meeting on page 14.

Celebrating BML’s momentous origins

It is a privilege to be leading the company during our milestone year, with 20 years of responsible stewardship and growth since BML purchased the Brisbane Markets site from the state government in September 2002.

In a special edition of Fresh Perspectives (pages 7 to 13), you can read about the controversies and commitments to bettering the fresh produce industry that led to this historic sale.

Without the foresight and dedication of Brismark, including its member wholesalers, senior management and staff, BML would never have come to be.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in the momentous process, especially those shareholders who, from the very beginning, had faith in us and our ability to oversee the growth and success of Brisbane Markets.

One of these people is Noel Greenhalgh, who not only played his part on the Board of Brismark, BML and Landacq Limited (BML’s predecessor), but was also Director of RW Pascoe which, along with the Carter and Spencer Group, provided a significant financial contribution to underwrite our bid for the Brisbane Markets site.

Noel retired from the Brismark Board in October after 26 years of service and was also recognised for is commitment to the industry as the recipient of the 2022 Fresh Markets Australia Meritorious Service Award. You can read about Noel’s service on page 15.

Grassroots initiatives to address labour issues

There would be few industries that haven’t been impacted by the current labour market issues, with the unemployment rate as low as 3.5%. A rate this low hasn’t been seen since the 1970s. These difficulties have particularly impacted horticulture and the fresh produce supply chain since COVID-19 shut the international borders in 2000, stemming the supply of seasonal workers from overseas.

In the lead-up to the Jobs and Skills Summit in September, the Food Supply Chain Alliance calculated the food supply chain needed 172,000 skilled and unskilled workers from paddockto-plate to continue the effective provision of food to the Australian community.

This issue requires a whole of industry and government approach.

However, our industry is not content to sit around and wait for others to solve problems for us.

On pages 35 to 37, you can read about various industry and government organisations working together on initiatives to address labour shortages and encourage new talent into horticulture, both in the short and long term.

Horticulture has a diversity of opportunities available for those seeking a dynamic and rewarding career feeding the nation.

It is hard to believe we are almost at the end of 2022. Make sure to spend quality time with your loved ones this holiday season. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all!

3 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Fresh Initiatives

Erbacher’s voted Queensland’s best

Australia’s best avo toast unveiled

Abetterchoice!for shoppers

Bee-bots solving pollination problems in greenhouses

Growing North Queensland horticulture

Sensors for smarter decisions

Fresh Profession

Building farm skills in the Wide Bay

Pick Paradise promotes jobs in North QLD

New face for QAWN in North QLD

Fresh Export

6 Feature: Celebrating 20
20 years ownership of
7 From
to private ownership: the
8 Life
9 The
11 Taking
12 Influencing their
14 Fresh Markets 14 Robust return for
shareholders 15 H1
15 Dedicated
16 Wholesale
17 Fun
18 Fresh Updates 18 Fields of
18 Pink,
19 Seeing
20 Bee
21 Pesticide
21 What
22 Growing
23 Banana
24 ‘Avo-lanche’
25 ACCC updates horticulture
26 Feature: Meet our Wholesalers 26 Meet the Brisbane Produce Market wholesalers 26 Who is Brismark? 26 Ten tips for working with a wholesaler 29
35 A
38 New supply
42 Mango Auction 44 Feature: Forklift Operator of the Year 46 Brisbane Produce Market Gala Dinner 48 Fresh Events 48 Central markets the centrepiece for Hort Connections Trade Show 49 Market tour creates connections 49 Foodbank Queensland thanks markets for lending a hand 50 Conference puts Fair Farms in the spotlight Contents BRISBANE MARKETS LIMITED | ABN 39 064 983 017 PO Box 80, Brisbane Markets®, Rocklea, Queensland 4106 E W ADVERTISING AND EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Editor: Seren Trump, Brisbane Markets Limited P 07 3915 4200 E DESIGN Effigy Creative P 07 3040 4343 | PRINT Q Print Group P 07 3262 3100 Fresh Source is the magazine of Brisbane Markets Limited. New editions of the magazine are printed three times a year. Advertising and editorial inquiries are welcome and media outlets are invited to use material without acknowledgement. Fresh Source is printed on Australian made recycled stock. 15 44 38 4 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
years of ownership
Brisbane Markets
Brisbane Markets
state government
under the Brisbane Market Trust
makings of Landacq
ownership of Brisbane Markets
own destiny
heralds new era for Green Endeavour
advocate retires from Brismark Board
sector support through Brismark
in the sun for a good cause
from research
White strawberries soon to hit Aussie market
RED: grant funds expansion
on the lookout for varroa mites
under development
are varroa mites?
Australia’s veggie industry
Panama TR4 detected on sixth banana farm
growers welcome new CEO
of avocados: consumption and exports need to rise
Financial assistance to build farm resilience
profession with a difference
Brisbane Markets: employment hub
Workforce initiatives get funding extension
for exporters
Collaboration aims to expand export capability
Members gather to hear the news on exports
A weapon against counterfeits
Indonesia told pears ‘grown in good nature’
Tariffs reduced on Aussie citrus to India

Foodbank Queensland works with Brisbane Markets to rescue food, reduce waste and fight hunger. Working together, more than 480,000 kilograms of fresh food is collected by Foodbank at Brisbane Markets each year and distributed to Queenslanders in need. That’s the equivalent of almost 1 million meals provided to children and adults experiencing hunger. Donating surplus or imperfect food enables Brisbane Markets wholesalers to directly provide benefits to people who are living in disadvantaged circumstances, while also having a positive impact on the environment.

• Save on your waste disposal costs • Positively impact staff morale • Simple one call pick up process • Ease of equipment transfer • Provide food directly to people in need • Reduce the volume of food going into landfill 1 2 3 .au @foodbankqld
Food To Feed Families
Benefits to Wholesalers:
In Need

Brisbane Markets Limited marks 20 years ownership of Brisbane Markets

In September 2002, the sale of the Brisbane Markets from the Queensland Government to Landacq Limited (which subsequently became Brisbane Markets Limited) was settled, heralding in a new era for Queensland’s fresh produce wholesaling sector.

At the time, the $74 million sale was described as an exercise in strategy, vision and perseverance. Now 20 years on, the proof is in the fruit salad as Brisbane Markets Limited (BML)’s management of the site has seen total asset value increase to $506.97 million at 30 June 2022.

BML Chair, Anthony Kelly, said that BML has invested over $220 million in infrastructure and development projects at Brisbane Markets over the past 20 years, an investment that could only be achieved through confidence in the industry and in the Rocklea site.

“I believe that confidence grew exponentially from acquisition, with investors knowing management of the site would improve substantially,” Mr Kelly said.

“I was President of Brismark at the time of acquisition. I loved the passion of those who put up their hands to contribute and was proud to be part of something so exciting,” he said.

Interest in Queensland’s only central market was strong, with both Australian and international bidders from within and outside the fruit and vegetable sector bidding for the right to own and manage the site.

Ultimately, the sale was a milestone for Queensland’s horticulture industry, handing control of the state’s most important wholesale marketing and distribution hub for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to the wholesalers, growers and

retailers from across Queensland who supported and invested in the winning bid.

“We’ve come a long way over the past 20 years and I commend the dedication and vision of all my fellow directors who have served on the BML Board over the past two decades,” said Mr Kelly.

“I also extend my heartfelt thanks to BML’s Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Young, the company’s management and staff who have delivered on the Board’s vision.

“Finally, I of course thank our loyal investors whose confidence and support have been unwavering, and without which we could not have made a reality the aspirations of what some considered to be merely a ragtag bunch of wholesalers from Rocklea. And we’re just getting started,” he said.

6 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Queensland Treasurer and Deputy Premier, Hon. Terry Mackenroth signing the contract for the sale of the Brisbane Markets, with Landacq Limited Chair, Tony Joseph, and Director, Anthony Kelly.

From state government to private ownership: the origins of BML

Brisbane Markets has a long history, stretching back to the original city markets in the late 1800s. Over the years, Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) has celebrated this history and amassed a collection of archival material that spans over 150 years for Brisbane’s central market.

However, not many people understand the significance of BML as a company and how it was born from the desire of Brismark, and its member wholesalers, to have more control and consultation over the Brisbane Markets site in Rocklea.

The acquisition of the Brisbane Markets from the state

government in 2002 was a pivotal change, one that was a decade in the making.

Now with new generations of wholesalers and support staff in the markets, some who have never experienced life before industry-based ownership, the 20th anniversary of BML is a timely reminder of just how much things have changed.

In this special anniversary feature, we explore the struggles and determination that provided the motivation for forming Landacq Limited (Landacq), the company that would become BML.

Aerial view of the Brisbane Markets in 2002 (top) and 2022 (bottom).
7 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Feature: Celebrating 20 years of ownership

Life under the Brisbane Market Trust

When the purpose-built Brisbane Markets were opened in 1964 under the management of the state government, the difference from the old Turbot and Roma Street market sites was dramatic. Buyers had adequate parking, trading times could be enforced, and the facilities were modern for the 60s.

Over time, it became clear that wholesalers were eager for more input into the future direction of the site, but their needs were not necessarily a priority for the state government.

According to current Brismark Chair and former Brisbane Market Trust Director, Gary Lower, the state government didn’t take account of wholesaler requirements.

“There was no long-term plan in place to guide the management of the site. It just wasn’t a very good place to do business, it was getting run down and they were doing nothing at all to modernise it,” Mr Lower said.

By the 1990s, an adversarial relationship between landlord and tenants had developed following many years of disagreements over a lack of focus on resourcing, security, maintenance, operating rules and a lack of collaboration.

Under resourcing was considered a real issue, with only two staff employed to maintain the site who were unable to cope with the growing list of repairs needed to keep the Brisbane Markets in good working order.

Wait times at the site entry points were not uncommon, as a shortage of security personnel would result in people sitting in cars at locked gates and waiting to enter or leave the site until a security patrol returned to open the gate.

“It was just constant aggravation. The governing body at the time were virtually outsiders who took no account of what our requirements or needs were,” Mr Lower said.

Without documented policies or procedures in place, a lack of transparency behind decisions made by the Brisbane Market Trust would inevitably benefit some businesses at the expense of others.

This lack of regulation promoted a use and abuse mentality, with reports that some market operators would dump waste on site and leave it for other operators to deal with at their expense.

Conversely, regulation was stifling businesses, with wholesalers facing barriers of red tape before they could secure the infrastructure required to grow their businesses, according to former BML and Brismark Chair, Tony Joseph AM.

“Approval for a new building could take two or three years. Then it would cost you a fortune to pay for the upgrades yourself,” Mr Joseph said.

Market Trust representatives at the time included Brisbane City Council and grower representatives who did not

consider wholesaler input to be valid.

“Peter Betros and I were on the Brisbane Market Trust in the 90s and it became impossible to discuss anything with them,” said Mr Lower.

“Whenever an issue came up related to retailing or wholesaling, we would be asked to leave the room. We couldn’t even be part of the conversation.”

It was clear that something had to be done to ensure the continued growth of Brisbane Markets and the success of businesses based on site.

The Fresh Centre as it looked when the site was purchased (top) and after the refurbishment of the building in 2011 (bottom).
8 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

The makings of Landacq

In the mid-1990s the situation came to a head.

With many wholesalers frustrated at a perceived lack of focus from the Brisbane Market Trust in cultivating a sense of community and consultation between landlord and tenants, tensions peaked, and all options were on the table, including setting up a rival market where wholesalers could govern themselves and do a better job.

The regulations that governed the Brisbane Markets, the City of Brisbane Market Act 1960, contained an

exclusivity clause: all wholesaling (including the sale and storage) of fresh produce within the City of Brisbane was restricted to the central market that was located in Rocklea.

In April 1994, the Department of Primary Industries, under Minister Ed Casey, released a discussion paper concerning the review of regulations at the Brisbane Markets, which highlighted the need for a reassessment of this exclusivity clause.

This move prompted Brismark, with Gerry Garard as General Manager

and a majority of Brisbane Markets wholesalers in support, to establish Landacq in July 1994, with the sole purpose of acquiring a parcel of land suitable for an alternative market site. The land was to be held as an investment, but also as a potential location to develop a new market under the control of the wholesalers themselves.

According to the Landacq Prospectus, the acquisition of land would “provide an invaluable basis for conducting negotiations with the operator of the Brisbane Markets, the state government and other interested parties, as to the future direction of the central market”.

In notes provided to Minister Casey, Brismark outlined that wholesalers were “extremely concerned about their future” and wanted out of the current system because they had little control over the future of their business or the charges they were having to pay, which they did not believe “reflect[ed] the standard of the facilities made available”.

“If we can’t produce some fair and reasonable arrangement with the government to acquire the market, then we believe that we have no option but to plan medium to long term a move into our own market,” the notes from Brismark said.

“The market wholesaling sector, like any other industry sector, must surely be permitted the opportunity to control its own destiny.”

In October 1994, Mr Garard wrote a letter to Minister Casey, informing him of the decision to formalise Brismark’s interest in acquiring the assets of the Brisbane Markets in Rocklea.

“We … have come to the conclusion that the contention of exclusivity for the market is not a realistic expectation,” Mr Garard said.

“On the basis of exclusivity being removed it is our position that there is no valid reason for government to remain involved in owning, controlling or supervising the Brisbane Markets.

“If satisfactory progress cannot be made on this issue, we feel that we will be left with little option but to advance our thinkings on alternatives to Rocklea.” Continued on following page.

9 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Brisbane Produce Market’s Covered Unloading Area at the time of the site’s purchase by Brisbane Markets Limited (above) and now with the roof extending all the way to Buildings B and C (below).

Feature: Celebrating 20 years of ownership

Continued from previous page.

Within days of the letter to the Minister, the Chairman of the Brisbane Market Trust, Leon Wruck, ruled that the wholesaler representatives on the Board, being Mr Garard, Mr Joseph and Geoffrey Cumming, had a pecuniary conflict of interest and refused to allow them to participate in Trust meetings. He also wrote to the Minister requesting that he replace Mr Garard, Mr Cumming and Mr Joseph on the Board.

Indeed, the situation deteriorated to such an extent that in December 1994, Mr Garard, Mr Cumming and Mr Joseph brought civil proceedings to the Supreme Court of Queensland against other members of the Board.

When explaining the background of the case, Justice Ambrose said that wholesalers had become “concerned at the financial viability of their wholesale operations should the market rentals, fixed by the Trust, continue to increase, while at the same time there was the [potential] loss of the exclusivity provisions” prompting the creation of Landacq.

Ultimately, Justice Ambrose decided in favour of the wholesaler representatives, saying that the exclusion of these parties from meetings was unlawful.

After two years of frustrating searching, Landacq finally located an appropriate greenfield site in the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor to the great relief of all concerned.

On 31 July 1996, Landacq purchased a 41.67 hectare block of land at Yatala for $2.6 million and on 17 January 1997 the company purchased an adjoining 5.12 hectare block for $1.3 million. By the end of the 1998 financial year, Brismark had also purchased a further two adjoining blocks.

According to Mr Joseph, Gold Coast City Council was extremely cooperative in their efforts to assist Landacq.

“Gold Coast City Council really wanted us to move down there. We had 33 businesses committed to moving down to Yatala that would bring their employees, buyers, and the flow on economic benefits of a permanent workforce in the area,” Mr Joseph said.

Landacq proceeded with a comprehensive study into the establishment of a tenant-controlled, state-of-the-art distribution centre, including a market, at the Yatala site.

It turned out the wholesalers were right to be worried about the potential for the exclusivity arrangements to be lifted. Amendments to the Act, published on 2 December 1998, showed the exclusivity clause was to expire on 31 August 1999.

This spurred on the approval for an Application for Operation Works to level the Yatala site, with a provision being that approval was extended for a period of six years, providing contingency for Brisbane Markets wholesalers.

In the 1999 Landacq Annual Report, Mr Garard said “The very existence of [Landacq], together with its landholding, came about through a vision by a number of progressive, strategic thinking, cost conscious and industry minded people, who could clearly see both the unfolding disaster for primary wholesalers, and the rewards that would accrue from such a move.”

10 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
The Building G2 Commercial Centre as it looked when the site was purchased (top) and after the refurbishment of the building in 2016 (bottom).

Taking ownership of Brisbane Markets

At the beginning of 2000, it was clear to the wholesalers that it was beyond time to persuade the state government to sell the Rocklea site.

“In the end, we had to make an ultimatum and we were very serious about it. We went to the government and told them we had land, wholesalers and money behind us,” Mr Joseph said.

Brismark continued to pressure the state government to relinquish ownership of the markets and, in May 2001, the Beattie state government acknowledged it didn’t have a role in owning and managing a fruit and vegetable market, and announced its intention to sell the Brisbane Markets by open public tender.

While the state government’s announcement to sell the markets caused significant uncertainty within the industry, Brismark quickly started a coordinated process to make a bid for the site.

Landacq was identified as an appropriate legal entity to be a bidding vehicle for the sale process and the company was fully restructured, a new constitution put in place and management agreement drawn up such that while Brismark would fund the bid, if it was successful, Brismark would be reimbursed for the expenditure incurred and be paid capital raising and success fees.

A negotiation team was appointed, being then Brismark president (and current BML Chair), Anthony Kelly, Brismark Directors Mr Joseph and Peter Tighe, and the new Brismark CEO (and current BML Managing Director), Andrew Young.

“When the opportunity to purchase the market site arose, it was an absolute milestone of my life, it is one of the few things I will never forget,” Mr Lower said.

“We had a meeting with consultants who were experienced in these types of undertakings, and they talked us through the process of getting shareholders, raising capital and building a successful bid.

“I remember going home afterwards and thinking this is beyond my wildest dreams. It goes to show that if you can find the right people, they can figure out a way to do anything,” Mr Lower said.

The four-stage tender process began in December 2001, with Landacq competing against numerous other interested parties, including multinational construction companies, superannuation funds and infrastructure funds.

Ultimately, Landacq’s $73.85 million bid for the 72-hectare site was successful, with the sale settling on 30 September 2002.

The Landacq consortium offered an attractive price, minimal risk exposure for the Queensland government, and a strong vision for the future development, management and operation of the markets.

“We had the most experience, and that’s what the state government wanted. They needed Brisbane Markets to be operated correctly for the benefit of both the growers and the consumers of this state,” Mr Joseph said.

The successful bid was underpinned by the strong support given by the Brismark Board, Brismark’s Bid Committee and the wholesaling sector.

It was also strengthened by the success of Landacq’s capital raising, the support given by the Westpac Bank, and considerable investment by two wholesalers, Carter & Spencer Group and RW Pascoe, to effectively underwrite the capital raising and satisfy bank requirements.

Mr Kelly said at the time “the Brismark Executive performed extremely well under the pressure created by the sale process, with the ultimate outcome being an outstanding success. The benefits which flow to Brismark will ensure that Brismark has a long position of strength within the industry both financially and as a key industry organisation.”

11 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
The Central Trading Area in 2002 (left) and in 2022 (right).

Feature: Celebrating 20 years of ownership

Influencing their own destiny

The purchase of the Brisbane Markets ushered in the beginning of a collaborative approach to the management of the market site, one in which the wholesalers were an active participant in the decisions made by the governing body.

Finally, the wholesalers of Brisbane Markets, through their membership in Brismark, were in a position to help guide the direction of Brisbane Markets and have a say in decisions that impacted the efficient operation of their businesses.

The transition to Landacq management on 1 October 2002 was seamless and at the Landacq Annual General Meeting on 28 November 2002, it was unanimously decided to change the company name to Brisbane Markets Limited (BML).

The boards of BML and Brismark reaffirmed their commitment to a structure that sees both organisations share a single CEO, as an appropriate and effective way of maximising the benefits of what had been achieved.

The cooperative relationship between BML and Brismark has continued, with Brismark as majority shareholders and wholesalers reflected in Board representation, allowing members to influence and benefit from decisions made by the market landlord.

“The ownership and management structure is envied by other central markets, with Brismark providing input to BML on matters of strategic and operational importance to the wholesaling sector,” Mr Kelly said.

“Through the structure put in place, BML works closely with Brismark to ensure a collaborative approach to all relevant policy and operational issues. This in itself is a far cry from the hostilities and animosity which existed under government ownership.”

BML quickly responded to tenant requirements for new temperature-controlled facilities, constructing the $4.25 million, 4,464 m2 Building B1 facility in 2003 and, in 2008, completing the construction of the $33 million, 16,000 m2 South Gate East facility, Buildings J1 and K1.

Over the subsequent two decades, development of Brisbane Markets has continued, and the industrial lettable area of the site has increased 33%, from 84,569 m2 in 2002 to 119,307 m2 in 2022. Total lettable area has increased 53%, from 112,402 m2 in 2002 to 172,146 m2 in 2022.

Along with this significant development in site infrastructure, BML has also implemented regimented ongoing maintenance programs, transparency in rent reviews, and a consistent policy-based approach to lease transactions, and building alterations and additions.

BML and Brismark work closely together in relation to reviewing the Master Plan for the site, as well as policy and development-related issues.

Brismark Director, Troy Beaton, remembers a flurry of action and determination to get the site into the hands of wholesalers, and laments that some people struggle to maintain perspective on how far we have come.

“It amuses me when people complain about the way things are now,” said Mr Beaton. “They forget that BML was born out of necessity and on our terms.

“BML spends millions on site infrastructure, is aligned with Brismark and invests in projects that Brismark supports, including supporting retailers.

“There are multiple tiers within the market who are invested in BML, making sure BML continues to do the right thing for the horticulture industry as a whole.

“The advantage is that we are influencing our own destiny. That’s the main benefit of industry-based ownership,” he said. According to Mr Joseph, the difference between state government and BML ownership has been dramatic.

“BML supports every facet of the horticulture industry and a big part of that is ensuring that we have facilities that are modern and up to date,” Mr Joseph said.

“BML has over 400 investors now and a lot of those investors come from within the industry: wholesalers, retailers, growers, transport operators. Industry-based ownership has a massive impact on BML as a business. We can get on with business under the direction of people who know about the industry.

“In an undertaking like Brisbane Markets it is very important to have good leadership and good management, and we have been blessed with both,” Mr Joseph said.

Mr Lower agrees, saying that “since taking over from the state government the site has just gone from strength to strength”.

“The BML Board has spent money on tidying up the site and making it a more modern place to do business. That improvement has been ongoing ever since. Now we have a facility we can all be proud of,” Mr Lower said.

Since the inception of BML, growth has increased exponentially. Often, these changes go unnoticed because potential issues are fixed before they become a problem to the markets community.

“People don’t see problems, because BML has already fixed them before they become an issue. As a Board, BML is thinking ahead all the time and future-proofing the site,” Mr Joseph said.

Mr Beaton agrees, saying: “You can see the changes we’ve had in the past decade, the undercover area in the Central Trading Area has been completed, new warehouses are going up.

Brisbane Markets was very stagnant for the 30 years before BML took ownership and now we are seeing a lot of changes, because BML as an organisation is getting stronger and they’re investing more.”

Following page: extract from The Courier Mail, published Friday, 4 October 2002, page 37.


In 2002, BML had 158 shareholders and in 2022 this has grown to over 400.

In the 2003 financial year, BML had a net asset backing of $2.29 and in 2022 this has grown to $4.90 per share.

12 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Robust return for BML shareholders

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) announced its results for the year ended 30 June 2022 at its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 9 November, recording a net profit after tax of $62.39 million.

The company recorded an underlying profit before tax of $19.13 million, representing growth of 1.48% when compared to the prior year.

BML Chair, Anthony Kelly, said that despite the impact of the flood event at the beginning of the year and the global health pandemic that preceded it, BML continues to achieve the robust results that have been the hallmark of the 20 years of the company’s ownership of the Brisbane Markets, since the site’s purchase from the State Government in 2002 (see page 6 for more information).

“BML has achieved a strong financial outcome and solid growth over the 2022 financial year and, indeed, the 20 years that preceded it,” Mr Kelly said.

“Our achievements and resilience are testament to the strength and experience of industry-based ownership of the Brisbane Markets. The results are also a reflection of the ongoing hard work, prudent decisionmaking and sound investment strategies implemented by the BML Board and senior management team.”

Ongoing development and upgrading of the Brisbane Markets site has continued to be a priority for BML, which recorded total asset growth of 19.72% and net asset growth of 29.64%. At 30 June 2022, total assets stood at $506.97 million with net assets of $267.13 million.

During the 2022 financial year, significant progress was made on the Building H1 development (see page 15 for details) and the continued expansion of South Gate West to ensure the future growth of and continued investment in the Brisbane Markets site and its infrastructure, to facilitate the marketing and distribution of fresh produce, in line with BML’s company mission.

BML’s strategic investment in Perth Markets Group Limited and the South Australian Produce Market Limited also contributed to the company’s net profit.

The company has declared a final dividend of 8 cents per share fully franked, bringing the total dividend paid in respect of the 2022 financial year to 16.75 cents per share fully franked.

Celebrating 20 years: Brisbane Markets Limited’s 2022 Annual Report.
14 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Annual review: BML’s Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Young, and Chair, Anthony Kelly.

H1 heralds new era for Green Endeavour

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML)’s flagship construction project for the 2022/23 financial year is taking shape following the installation of roof sheeting and ventilation on the $23.2 million warehouse.

“It’s so exciting watching the construction progress each day from our tenancy over the road at Building Z,” said Green Endeavour’s Projects and Innovations Manager, Sarah Strathern.

“Seeing H1 grow from a blank canvas to all the various pieces coming together to form this state-of-the-art facility, has the Green Endeavour team inspired and we all can’t wait to move in!”

The rough-in of the office area services and glazing is complete, with work currently progressing on plastering and lining the offices.

The main warehouse component of the 5,987 m² build is currently having cold room panel installed and has achieved installation of the raised plant decks and the major components of the refrigeration plant.

By mid-November it is expected that the warehouse concrete slab will be complete with the focus then shifting to the external panel and high-level services installations during December, including electrical distribution boards, communications cable trays and sprinkler systems.

The building is expected to reach practical completion in March 2023 and will be tenanted by Green Endeavour, the parent entity of existing Brisbane Markets Tenants, Fruitlink and Suncoast Fresh.

Construction of the Building H1 warehouse is progressing well.

Dedicated advocate retires from Brismark Board

Prominent Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Noel Greenhalgh, has retired from the Brismark Board after serving 26 years as a Director.

His retirement was announced at the Brismark Annual General Meeting held in October (see page 16 for more details). Mr Greenhalgh will continue as a Director of Brisbane Markets Limited (BML), a position he has held since 2000.

In June, Mr Greenhalgh was recognised for his service to the fresh produce industry with the 2022 Fresh Markets Australia Meritorious Service Award. The award was presented as part of the Hort Connections Gala Dinner.

According to the Chair of Brismark, Gary Lower, the Award was recognition for the strong contribution and loyal service Mr Greenhalgh, Managing Director of wholesale business RW Pascoe, has shown the fresh produce industry and the Brisbane Markets over more than 30 years.

“Noel consistently demonstrates his dedication to the markets, the wholesale sector and the horticulture industry as a whole, working hard to advocate for the industry, including participating in events, hosting visiting delegations and consistently promoting Brisbane

Markets and the fruit and vegetable supply chain,” Mr Lower said.

“Noel has been a dedicated and committed member of the Brismark Board since 1996 and has made a significant contribution to the organisation and the industry during that time. On behalf of the Board, I thank him for his valuable service.”

According to BML Chair, Anthony Kelly, Mr Greenhalgh was an early supporter of the Brismark-led bid to purchase the Brisbane Markets from the State Government.

“Noel is a consummate professional in all aspects of his life, working hard to improve the standing and status of the wholesaling sector,” Mr Kelly said.

“This was never clearer than when he made a significant contribution to the bid to purchase the Brisbane Markets site in 2002, both in share investment and underwriting the capital, allowing the previously neglected site to transition to industry-based ownership.”

While a director of both BML and Brismark, Mr Greenhalgh supported effective collaboration between BML, the market landlord, and Brismark, the representative body for wholesalers within the Brisbane Markets, and ensured the BML Board’s culture retains

its strong recognition of the wholesaling sector.

“It was a fitting tribute that Noel received the Meritorious Service Award in the year when we celebrate 20 years of private ownership of Brisbane Markets, and I congratulate Noel as a very worthy recipient and a worthy peer to stand alongside prior recipients of this prestigious industry accolade,” Mr Lower said.

Noel Greenhalgh was recognised with the 2022 Fresh Markets Australia Meritorious Service Award in the lead up to his retirement from the Brismark Board.
15 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022


Wholesale sector support through Brismark

Fruit and vegetable wholesalers from the Brisbane Markets gathered on 19 October for the Annual General Meeting of their member representative organisation, Brismark.

Despite the challenges of the health pandemic and flood event, Brismark delivered a strong result for the 2022 financial year with a pre-tax operating profit of $2.74 million and a strong level of net assets, reflecting the organisation’s ongoing commitment to its strategic priorities.

As the organisation representing the wholesale sector of the fresh produce industry, Brismark’s focus is on advocacy activities and providing a range of services to support its members and their associated businesses.

These services include training and development, recruitment, bookkeeping, work health and safety, human resources, industrial relations, food safety and quality assurance support and advice. Brismark’s Credit Service also acts as the financial clearing house for transaction that occur in the Brisbane Markets.

Brismark’s Chair, Gary Lower, said that the Credit Service proved to be a valuable service for its members and played a key role in the organisation achieving a strong financial result.

“The Credit Service saw a record throughput of $731.42 million last financial year, an increase of 6.49% on the prior year. This is testament to the value that this service provides to our members and the organisations with which we do business,” Mr Lower said.

“There were also 195 occasions where Brismark provided specialist human resources, industrial relations or work health and safety advice and assistance to 53 different stakeholders.”

Brismark’s strong working relationship with Brisbane Markets Limited saw several long-standing initiatives maintained

including managing site work health and safety, the Brisbane Produce Market Mango Auction, and the A better choice! Retailer Program.

“This year, both organisations also participated in the Brisbane Careers and Employment Expo to help position the Brisbane Markets as a career destination and employment hub.”

The Brismark Board structure was revised last year with the number of Directors reducing from ten to nine this year. Longstanding Director Noel Greenhalgh retired from the Board at this year’s Annual General Meeting (see page 15 for more details).

The Brismark Board now consists of re-elected Chair, Gary Lower (J Allen Pty Ltd), Deputy Chair Mark Murphy (John Potter Pty Ltd), Deputy Chair, Stephen Edwards (Murray Bros), and six Directors. Mark Moore (M&D Vegetable Specialists Pty Ltd) was re-elected to the Board for a term of one year, while Paul O’Toole (O’Toole Produce) and Troy Beaton (H E Heather & Co) were re-elected for a term of three years at this year’s Annual General Meeting.

Mark Clarke (Favco QLD Pty Ltd), Hamish Montague (Montague Fresh (QLD) Pty Ltd) and Lachlan Armstrong (Armstrong Brothers) will continue in their current appointments as Directors of the Brismark Board.

Expanded chemical test now available

FreshTest has introduced an expanded fruit and vegetable residue screen, which is now available to their grower customers.

Food safety standards require growers to complete a multiscreen maximum residue test that includes chemicals used as part of their spray program and, where applicable, postharvest chemicals.

Since 2001, FreshTest has provided multi-screen maximum residue tests to assist industry meet safety standards and customer requirements. The chemical industry has had many compounds approved in recent times that can be tested with the analytical methods used for chemical residue screens.

According to Gail Woods, General Manager of Fresh Markets Australia which manages FreshTest, they worked with their NATA-accredited laboratory to introduce the FreshTest® C6M – Fruit & Vegetable Mega Residue Screen which will test for

over 400 compounds.

The expanded test will replace the C6 ‘Pesticide Residue LCMSMS + GCMS’, which tested for around 150 compounds, but will be provided at the same cost.

The existing FreshTest C3 Pesticide Residue LCMSMS and C5 Pesticide Residue GCMS tests will continue in their current format. Each test for around 120 and 30 compounds respectively.

“FreshTest has been providing chemical reside testing for industry for 21 years, becoming the largest and most comprehensive horticultural residue-testing program undertaken in Australia. The introduction of the Fruit & Vegetable Mega Residue Screen will make it more likely that the chemical compounds being used by industry will be covered,” Mrs Woods said.

Serving members: Brismark CEO, Andrew Young, and Chair, Gary Lower.
16 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Fun in the sun for a good cause

The generosity and camaraderie of the Brisbane Markets was on show recently when members of the markets community took to the golf course for a day of fun and fundraising. The annual Brisbane Produce Market Charity Golf Day, sponsored by Brisbane Markets Limited and Brismark, was held on Friday, 16 September.

After a few quiet years, the 2022 event saw an increase in participants, with 36 teams featuring 144 players taking to the course at Brookwater Golf & Country Club for the fourperson ambrose.

The event first started in 2014, and since then has raised over $100,000 for charity, with this year’s beneficiary, Diabetes Australia, receiving over $18,000.

Event organiser, Phil Thomas said the golf day was a great way to catch up and socialise away from the hustle and bustle of the Brisbane Produce Market Selling Floor.

“The event is great for everyone involved. It gives the markets community the chance to socialise in a more relaxed environment while supporting a really good cause: it’s a win win at every level,” Mr Thomas said.

“Participants were able to enjoy some sun, a game of golf and a bit of exercise. We’d like to thank everyone who got involved and showed their support for Diabetes Australia.

“Demand was strong this year with the event filling up quickly, so make sure to get in early next year if you want to put together a team.”

Worthy winners: Danny Kaddour, Steven Kaddour and George Vourdousis. Not pictured: Ryan Lavender. Great day out: Participants enjoyed the gorgeous weather and beautiful backdrop of Brookwater.
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Traditional kick off: The event started with a bagpiper playing God Save the Queen and the Australian National Anthem.

Fields of flavour stem from research

A $7-million joint research project harnessing scientific advances could result in a range of new, elite strawberry varieties to target premium markets.

The five-year project led by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and Griffith University, funded by Hort Innovation Australia, will build an advanced knowledge base of the genetics behind the strawberry flavours and qualities consumers prefer.

Associate Professor Heather Smyth, a sensory science and flavour chemist from QAAFI’s Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, said the aim was to create diversity for strawberries, similar to apples.

“There are many different apple varieties which offer subtly different tastes, textures and end-uses – Granny Smith, Red Delicious for example,” Dr Smyth said.

“We potentially could have the same for strawberries –different varieties with different sensory properties and therefore different applications and markets.

“For example, home consumers might prefer small, sweet strawberries, while chefs might prefer the visual appeal of larger fruit for particular culinary uses and may not be too concerned about sweetness because they can add it themselves.”

Dr Smyth said once sensory profiles are established for existing and new characteristics, new varieties can eventually be made available to growers and consumers.

“We are going to really advance where we are with each of these crops and give plant breeders the tools they need to deliver varieties that will allow producers to give consumers what they love about these fruits.”

Pink, White strawberries soon to hit Aussie market

Two new home-grown strawberry varieties, Pink and White, will soon be available to Australian growers and consumers after Hort Innovation put the call out for a commercial partner to fasttrack the products to market.

Hort Innovation Chief Executive, Brett Fifield, said both varieties have an intense strawberry aroma and an unusual appearance that is expected to appeal to consumers. They have been specially bred for the Australian environment and offer superior overall quality.

“Pink and White strawberries are like nothing else on Aussie retail shelves. They’re exceptional, and so they should be. They are the culmination of years

of research, field trials, consumer preference testing and industry engagement,” Mr Fifield said.

The new White strawberries are true to their name. On the inside, they are brilliant white. On the outside, they are white with a pale pink blush and specked with red seeds.

The Pink strawberries have a peach pink exterior and also feature a white inside. Both have a rich aroma and are sweet in flavour.

Hort Innovation and DAF QLD are seeking a suitable partner to commercialise the varieties, foster grower adoption and deliver marketing efforts to support consumer awareness.

18 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Pretty in pink: The new Pink strawberry variety.

Seeing RED: grant funds expansion

Three horticulture enterprises in Queensland have scored funding through the Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant to expand their farming business.

Bundaberg’s Cross Family Farms, Mareeba’s Galati Farming and Atherton Tablelands producer Berry North, have all received RED grants of up to $200,000 to assist with economic development in regional Queensland.

Cross Family Farms

Consumer demand for fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables is the inspiration the Cross Family Farms project to construct two new state-ofthe-art cold rooms to assist with supply to help meet the ever-growing demand for their produce.

Sales and Compliance Manager of Cross Family Farms, Clinton Phillips, said that the new cold rooms will improve cold chain management for the business and packhouse production.

“Our current cold rooms are outdated and not efficient for the business as they cannot hold the large amount of produce we are harvesting. This project will increase our capacity by more than 50%, improve the shelf life of the produce and enable export opportunities,” Mr Phillips said.

Cross Family Farms grows a large variety of vegetables including tomatoes, snow peas, capsicum, chilli, green beans, butter beans, borlotti beans, zucchini, grey pumpkin, kent pumpkin and more.

Mr Phillips says that in the past decade, consumers appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables has increased dramatically.

“This has led to fresh horticulture produce being chilled, packed and transported thousands of kilometres interstate, and much further to export markets from farms like ours. Fast chilling to target storage temperatures is a major step to successfully achieving market expectations,” he said.

Galati Farming

In Mareeba, Galati Farming will also use the RED funding to install an additional cold room to support the expansion of their orchard to help meet consumer demand for fresh fruit.

Director of Galati Farming, Gina Galati, owns and runs the business with her husband, Giovanni, who is the second

generation to own the business, and says she looks forward to seeing the business grow with the help of the grant.

“We currently grow lemons, grapefruit, mandarins and pomelos but are struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for fresh fruit,” Ms Galati said.

“After much consultation with multiple agents in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne we knew that we needed to expand our orchard and the new cold room will help us accommodate the extra produce.”

Berry North

On the Atherton Tablelands, Berry North will be using their RED grant towards the capital cost of purchasing optical grading equipment which will allow them to grade, sort and pack blueberries at four times their current rate.

General Manager of Berry North, Martin Inderbitzin, said Berry North enjoys a challenge and the use of new technology in horticultural production and packaging.

“Visual grading of fresh produce is an exciting technology that will take Berry North’s business to the next level,” Mr Inderbitzin said.

“Computer optical grading enables complete surface and internal inspection of blueberries, with greater throughput and consistency than our existing manual grading process.”

“This technology will not only greatly improve the efficiency of the packing facility function but will translate into improved product output and enable Berry North to expand their berry production,” he said.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said they are three of 16 businesses to receive a grant in the latest round of funding.

“These grants are about backing our farmers to take on the world and supporting vital growth to create good jobs in traditional industries like agriculture,” Minister Furner said.

The initial three rounds of the RED Grants program have seen funding of $10 million over three years to support more than 30 projects which have created 1,800 jobs across regional Queensland.

For more information about the RED Grant scheme visit

Minister Furner with Giovanni Galati from Galati Farming. Wendy and Trevor Cross show Minister Mark Furner and Bundaberg MP, Tom Smith, their tomato grader.
19 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Bee on the lookout for varroa mites

Bee movements across the country are being restricted and authorities are closely monitoring Queensland’s bee population following the detection of a deadly honey bee parasite in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle in June.

Since varroa mite (Varroa destructor) was first detected, at least 100 infected premises have been discovered in NSW and eradication zones are currently in place around the Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Narrabri and Nana Glen areas.

All confirmed cases either have clear links to existing cases or are geographically related and 75% of all hives within the eradication zones have been euthanised.

Varroa mites mainly feed and reproduce on honey bee larvae and pupae, leading to malformations, as well as transmitting numerous viruses. Varroa destructor does not pose a threat to native Australian honey bees.

This is not the first time Australia has witnessed incursions of varroa mites. In 2016, 2019 and 2020, Varroa jacobsoni was detected on exotic Asian honey bee at the Port of Townsville. The pest was eradicated and proof of freedom from Varroa jacobsoni was declared in 2021.

In 2018 Varroa destructor was detected in Victoria in a swarm of European honey bees on arriving cargo. The bees were reported by the crew of the arriving vessel. The government

agencies responded and the swarm was eliminated.

After previous incursions were eradicated, Australia was the only inhabited continent in the world free of varroa mite.

A widespread varroa mite outbreak would have a devastating effect on Australia’s horticulture industry. Over 35 agricultural industries are reliant on bee pollination, including apples, macadamias, avocados, almonds, blueberries and cherries.

Vice president of the Queensland Beekeepers Association, Brad Jensen, said professional honey beekeepers pollinated about $14 billion worth of crops across Australia each year, highlighting how critical the industry was to food production.

“Without the bees they’ll have to look for other crops to grow,” he said.

Queensland updated the movement control orders in August, with a biosecurity instrument permit now necessary for moving bees, hives, used equipment or bee products (including unprocessed honey) from another state into Queensland.

Beekeepers are also urged to monitor their hives for unexpected hive deaths, deformed bees, parasites, poor brood patterns and dead broods.

Queensland growers who engage beekeepers for pollination services need

to make arrangements for a local supply ahead of the growing season.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, said the threat of varroa mite made it even more critical to source local bees.

“Under current restrictions, bees and hives from New South Wales cannot be brought into Queensland,” Minister Furner said.

“Anybody who usually sources bees from interstate for pollination is encouraged to engage with local Queensland-based beekeepers for these services.

“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility to ensure our horticultural industries, which rely heavily on bees for pollination, are protected. We are watching this very closely, because it does have the potential for impacts on our agricultural industry.

“It is vital that any beekeepers who spot something not quite right with their hives report to Biosecurity Queensland as soon as possible,” Minister Furner said.

Secretary of the Queensland Beekeepers’ Association, Jo Martin, said it was a critical time for the beekeeping industry and urged growers to consider how they could support beekeepers to maintain bee biosecurity responsibilities.

Continued on following page.

A female varroa mite on a European honey bee.
Updates 20 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
A close up of a varroa mite (IMAGE: US Department of Agriculture).

Continued from previous page.

“If you require hives from multiple beekeepers, ensure you are consulting with the beekeepers on hive placement and encourage beekeepers to undertake mite surveillance checks and report their findings to the Bee 123 app, prior to the arrival of hives on farm,” Ms Martin said.

“Growers that generally source bees from interstate should contact their grower industry body in the first instance if they need to source bees for pollination. The Queensland Beekeepers’ Association supports growers and can connect them with Queensland beekeepers.”

Want to find out more?

To find out more, click or scan the QR code to visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries varroa mite engagement hub.

What are varroa mites?

There are two species of parasitic varroa mite: Varroa destructor, which affects European and Asian honey bees; and Varroa jacobsoni, which affects Asian honey bees, but has been observed reproducing on European honey bees at some overseas locations, raising concerns that the same may happen in Australia.

The mites are tiny, the size of a pinhead, with adult females having a reddishbrown, flattened, oval-shaped body up to 2 mm in size. Adult males have a yellowish, spherical body under 1 mm in size.

Varroa mite spreads viruses that cripple bees’ ability to fly, gather food, or emerge from their cell to be born. It also significantly reduces their ability to pollinate crops.

Varroa mite numbers build up over time, eventually killing honey bee nests and hives if chemical mite killers or other management strategies are not applied. Bee colony death affects honey production and pollination of certain food crops.

Both species of varroa mite are listed as prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014

Report hive checks

Click or scan the QR code to report any checks you have made on your hives, even if you don’t find any suspect mites.

Pesticide under development

Hort Innovation has joined forces with the University of Sydney to develop a world-first hormone-based pesticide that is safe for honey bees but fatal to varroa mite.

As part of the $1.2 m initiative, scientists will create molecules that selectively bind to and interfere with the hormone receptors of varroa mite and fellow honey bee pest, small hive beetle, interfering with reproduction, development, and behaviour. The target receptors are absent from vertebrates, making the pesticide safe for other beneficial animals in the environment.

University of Sydney project lead Professor, Joel Mackay, said insecticides that target varroa mite and small hive beetle receptors have not been successfully created before.

“There has been international recognition of the potential value of insect hormone receptors as targets for safer selective control agents,” he said.

“Several companies have tried and encountered technical difficulties largely because these proteins are challenging to express, purify and characterise.

“However, our team has had over a decade of experience tackling and overcoming these technical challenges. We have one of only two laboratories in the world that have determined atomic structures of the hormone proteins of the receptors we are targeting. We have also developed a unique receptor-based chemical library screen for discovery of new pesticide leads molecules.”

An adult female varroa mite on a European honey bee pupae (IMAGE: Queensland Department of Agriculture).
21 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Growing Australia’s veggie industry

Growth in the Australian vegetable industry has significantly outpaced the overall agricultural sector over the past five decades, according to a new report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

According to ABARES Executive Director, Dr Jared Greenville, the ‘Growing the Australian vegetable industry by diversifying products and improving quality’ report shows the growth can be attributed to the vegetable industry’s ability to take advantage of changes in consumer incomes and tastes.

“The vegetable sector has seen growth through a shift toward higher value products and improvements in the quality and convenience of what is provided,” Dr Greenville said.

Over the period from 1969-70 to 2020-21, the nominal value of vegetable production increased by $4.7 billion.

“Improvements in product mix and quality contributed nearly 60% of that growth while general vegetable price inflation contributed 35% and increased volumes 5%,” Dr Greenville said.

Rising incomes and changing tastes have shifted consumer demand towards higher quality, wider variety and improved convenience, with only a moderate increase in volumes.

“We are not eating greater quantities of vegetables, rather we are eating a wider range of higher quality vegetables.”

The improvement in quality has come from a variety of sources, including improved packaging, greater consistency, more ready to eat products and greater year-round availability.

“An important experience of the vegetable sector has been the on-farm value created by effectively responding to changes in consumer preferences

Panama TR4 detected on sixth banana farm

Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) has been detected on a sixth commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley. Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) advised the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) that samples taken from suspect plants have returned positive results from diagnostic testing. The suspect plants were discovered during routine surveillance by BQ.

Panama TR4 was first detected in the Tully Valley in 2015 and ABGC CEO, Leanne Erakovic, confirmed that the new detection was on a farm in close proximity to the other infected properties.

Ms Erakovic said the affected farm was able to begin trading again within 24 hours.

“I don’t think anything can really prepare growers for that moment when they’re told they have a positive detection of TR4 on their farm.

“However, there are a range of practical steps growers can put in place in advance – such as clean access roads and footwear exchanges – that will allow you to continue farming as quickly as possible.”

Ms Erakovic and BQ agree that the new detection reinforces the need for growers to adopt and maintain robust biosecurity measures.

and the role that close relationships along supply chains have played,” Dr Greenville said.

“While the experience of the vegetable sector may not be fully applicable everywhere, it seems likely that for a wide range of products in major export markets a capacity to differentiate based on quality attributes will be increasingly important as consumer incomes increase and tastes evolve.”

To find out more or download the full report, click or scan the QR Code.

“This is a timely reminder to growers to ensure their on-farm biosecurity is robust, for the protection of their farm and the wider banana industry,” she said.

ABGC, on behalf of the banana industry, will lead, fund and manage the Panama TR4 Control and Containment Program in North Queensland from July 2023.

Updates 22 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Identifying Panama TR4: A biosecurity officer looking for signs of Panama TR4.

Banana growers welcome new CEO

Long-serving Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) CEO, Jim Pekin, has retired with Leanne Erakovic taking the reins.

According to ABGC Chair, Stephen Lowe, Mr Pekin has been advocating for those who grow Australia’s favourite fruit for more than a decade and will be sorely missed.

“He was appointed in the role in the wake of Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and has worked tirelessly on behalf of commercial banana growers since,” Mr Lowe said.

“I’ve seen first-hand the amount of time, passion and effort he has put into this industry behind the scenes.

“He will leave behind a remarkable legacy, particularly his key role in the management of TR4 in Queensland and the eradication of Banana Freckle in the Northern Territory.

“Jim has consistently advocated for better outcomes for growers and has helped move towards a stronger, more sustainable future.”

Mr Lowe said that Ms Erakovic, who has been the ABGC Executive Officer for the past six years, was well equipped to advocate and represent industry, ensuring the long-term sustainability for all growers and the wider industry.

“We had a very strong field of highly experienced applicants to choose from and Leanne is an outstanding choice for this role,” Mr Lowe said.

“Leanne brings a wealth of experience from both working with the ABGC for the past six years and her business background. We are confident she has the expertise and vision to lead the ABGC and the banana industry into the future.”

Mr Pekin said that it had been a privilege to get to know, learn from and work with Board members and other banana growers.

“Australian banana growers are world leaders at what they do, and I thank them for being so generous with their time, knowledge and friendliness,” Mr Pekin said.

“I will miss the banana industry, which I am very passionate about. It is such an

incredibly vibrant industry. I will also miss the great staff that ABGC has and others that I have chewed over banana issues with!”

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End of an era: Australian Banana Growers’ Council CEO, Jim Pekin, has retired.

‘Avo-lanche’ of avocados: consumption and exports need to rise

Australia will need to both consume and export more avocados as the nation’s growers navigate a period of soaring production growth over the coming five years, specialist agribusiness bank Rabobank says in a new report.

This year alone, ‘per capita (person) supply’ of avocados is estimated to be up 26% on the previous 12 months to 4.8 kilogram – equating to 22 avocados per Australian.

In ‘The ‘Avolanche’ of Australian Avocados’ report, the bank’s outlook for the avocado industry, Rabobank says a significant maturing of avocado trees in the past season – primarily in Western Australia and Queensland – has resulted in a bumper crop, causing a national oversupply and seeing retail prices fall to a record low of $1 each in June 2021 and again early in July 2022.

Retail prices for 2022 remain tracking at 47% below the five-year average.

While the low prices have been welcomed by consumers currently facing significant price rises for many other food items and household staples, they have put considerable pressure on grower margins, already squeezed by increasing input costs and labour shortages, according to the report’s author RaboResearch associate analyst, Pia Piggott.

“A bumper 2021/22 crop in Western Australia was a turning point,” Ms Piggott said, “with industry estimates of avocado production in the state being up a staggering 265% on the previous year. This was driven by a 21% increase in the hectares of avocado trees in WA that reached maturity and produced fruit in this season, coupled with optimal growing conditions in the state.”

Overall, Australia’s avocado production for 2021/22 is estimated at 124,000 tonnes. Coupled with estimated imports of 12,500 tonnes for the year, this has

meant abundant supplies for consumers, Ms Piggott said.

The past year’s market oversupply in Australia was “just the beginning”, the report says, with industry forecasts that domestic avocado production will expand by 40% (or 50,000 tonnes) in the next five years, reaching 173,000 tonnes in 2026.

Regaining balance in Australia’s avocado market requires both “increased domestic demand and larger export volumes”, Ms Piggott says.

In 2021/22, the average volume of avocados consumed by each Australian household increased 31.2% on the previous year, the report says. This is despite households spending 29.1% less on avocados, due to lower prices.

However, increasing consumption of avocados in Australia will not be enough to use up the ‘avo-lanche’ of additional local production in coming years, the report says, and ramping up exports will be critical in ensuring the market finds a better balance to support sustainable prices for growers.

Australian export volumes of avocados have already increased by more than 350% in the past year.

“The Singapore and Hong Kong markets have been stand-out performers, with Australia growing to account for 46% and 12% market share of their avocado imports, respectively,” Ms Piggott said.

“Malaysia remains an integral export market and has re-bounded from COVID-related impacts, with Australian exports making up 46% of the total imported avocados into Malaysia. Exports to the rest of the world are also up, including to the Middle East and Japan.”

“While exporting provides the greatest opportunity for Australia’s avocado industry to attract a good price and improve revenue, ensuring high export quality is paramount to maintaining the reputation and premium of the fruit, and continued investment in improving export access remains a key priority for the Australian avocado industry,” Ms Piggott said.

It’s official: you can eat more avos! The recommended serving size for avocado has been increased from 50 g to 75 g. According to a 2022 Avocado Nutrition and Health report, published by Hort Innovation, studies have shown that people who regularly eat avocado have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), a smaller waist and less weight gain over time. The report also shows that avocados contribute almost 20 different nutrients and phytonutrients, and that population research shows avocado eaters consume significantly more key nutrients than non-avocado eaters. Updates 24 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Production is up, prices are down and consumers are the winners according to a new report on avocados by Rabobank.

ACCC updates horticulture code

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has updated its guidance to the Horticulture Code of Conduct (the Code) to help growers and traders better understand their rights and to fulfil their responsibilities.

The mandatory Code governs the relationship between a grower and a trader of horticulture produce to ensure transparency and clarity of trading arrangements in the horticulture industry and provide a fair and equitable dispute resolution procedure.

Since the current version of the Code was released in 2018, Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) and state wholesaler chambers (including Brismark) have undertaken several rounds of training and refresher training to assist central market primary wholesalers to comply with the Code.

The ACCC’s Agriculture Commissioner, Mick Keogh, and Assistant Director, Sharyn Vaughan, recently toured the Brisbane Produce Market and were provided with a briefing about the new guidance from the perspective of Brisbane Produce Market wholesalers.

According to FMA General Manager, Gail Woods, the years since the Code was released have provided the opportunity for multiple rounds of compliance checks, as well as the opportunity for helpful industry feedback.

“The central markets are a vital link in the fresh produce supply chain and as such we welcome the opportunity to meet

Touring the markets: Andrew Young (CEO of Brisbane Markets Limited and Brismark), Mick Keogh (ACCC Agriculture Commissioner), Sharyn Vaughan (ACCC Assistant Director) and Gail Woods (Fresh Markets Australia General Manager).

with the ACCC to talk about the new guidance and other Code related matters,” Ms Woods said.

“It is important that growers as well as wholesalers are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Code.”

The ACCC has stated that it intends to conduct ongoing compliance checks in the horticulture industry and will strongly consider enforcement action where it identifies non-compliance. These checks are important in assessing the effectiveness of, and level of compliance with, the Code.

Want to know more about the Horticulture Code of Conduct? Just click or scan the QR code.

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Meet the Brisbane Produce Market wholesalers

There are 49 fruit and vegetable wholesalers who make up Brismark’s member base, each an independent business that operates from Queensland’s central market: the Brisbane Produce Market (BPM).

Each operator competes for the same business. Such competition ensures prices are based on supply and demand, and with pricing changing daily buyers can always be assured of getting the best produce at competitive market prices. This is passed onto primary wholesalers’ customers or buyers such as independent retailers and secondary wholesalers or provedores.

Who is Brismark?

Brismark is a member organisation which represents and serves the needs of the wholesaling sector of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, in particular the primary wholesalers who operate out of the BPM.

Brismark provides advocacy and financial, commercial and marketing services to primary wholesalers, secondary wholesalers, commercial buyers, growers, industry groups and job seekers.

As a member organisation it actively lobbies on major industry issues such as the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

It also offers a Credit Service facility which acts as a clearing house for its members and associated businesses that operate within the BPM providing a secure, efficient and paperless means of conducting business.

Contact Brismark

To contact Brismark, you can visit for more information, or:

Phone: 07 3915 4222


Visit: Level 2 Fresh Centre, Brismark Markets, 385 Sherwood Road, Rocklea QLD 4106

Post: PO Box 70, Brisbane Markets®, QLD 4106

Ten tips for working with a wholesaler

1. Make sure you have a signed Horticulture Produce Agreement between you and your wholesaler. It is a mandatory requirement of the Horticulture Code of Conduct, speak to your wholesaler or visit

2. Visit the central markets and try to come in-season too, so that you can compare your product and packaging with the competition.

3. Communicate with your wholesaler and let them know if you are experiencing any difficulties or expect an especially good crop so that forward planning can take place.

4. Is your packaging up to scratch? Ensure your packaging is appropriate and supports the overall presentation of the produce.

5. Keep up-to-date records of your transactions. Always use consignment notes to help track your produce. These are a great reference point if something ever goes wrong.

6. Accurately grade and describe your fruit. Packing your produce into grade 1 boxes when the produce is grade 2 will only break down your relationship with the wholesaler and the regular purchasers of your product.

7. Use reliable carriers who can get your produce to its destination on time and in good condition.

8. Contact your wholesaler quickly if you do not receive payment by the agreed time.

9. Listen to your wholesaler’s advice and be prepared to accept constructive criticism. Your wholesaler does have an interest in seeing you reach the best possible price for your product.

10. Stick to the numbers of pallets or cartons that you have advised your wholesaler you will be sending. Never send produce unannounced or short change an order because your wholesaler usually knows exactly how much produce is required.

26 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Company Name Contacts

Alfred E Chave Pty Ltd

Arcella Banana Company

Armstrong Bros Fruit & Veg Merchants

Australian Ethical Growers

BG Brisbane

Carter and Spencer

Mobile Phone Email

Anthony Joseph 0418 827 584 07 3379 1071

Patrick Arcella 0408 133 233 02 9746 7857

Lachlan Armstrong 0447 787 094 07 3379 5344

Claire Crocker 0428 851 699

Anthony Gribben 0411 723 001 07 3278 2877

Matthew Spencer 0438 138 017 07 3361 5555

Central Park Produce Jonathon Goody 0417 713 235 07 3193 5240

Costa Group Ryan O'Keeffe 0427 604 211 07 3379 0300

Cumming Produce Centre Nick Marentis 0438 270 672 07 3379 3409

Don Alroe & Sons

Paul Alroe 0412 755 665 07 3379 3554

Favco Queensland Pty Ltd Mark Clarke 0407 781 792 07 3717 1500

Franklin Bros

Garden Verde

Gibb Bros

GNL Produce

Robert Hinrichsen 0412 700 570 07 3379 5944

Bassam Abou Chahla 0410 417 916 07 3379 9590

Nicholas Gibb 0419 175 878 07 3379 9999

Jason Lower 0439 163 267 07 3278 1275

Gollagher Bros Pty Ltd Stephen Gollagher 0409 635 700 07 3278 3711

H E Heather & Co Pty Ltd Troy Beaton 0419 662 293 07 3278 2666

Ireland 53 Gary Vedelago 0418 743 028 07 3379 1131

J Allen Pty Ltd Gary Lower 0418 709 291 07 3379 8644

J E Tipper Pty Ltd Steve Barnes 0435 054528 07 3379 1041

J H Leavy & Co Ben Bartlett 0428 454 979 07 3379 4659

John Potter Pty Ltd Mark Murphy 0418 798 462 07 3278 0600

King Pak Australia Jack George 0408 459 867 07 3717 1400

KLS Farm Produce Steven Wright 0477 887 401

Lavender & Sons Gary Lavender 0412 192 370 07 3278 5082

Lind & Sons Pty Ltd Fraser Lind 0418 714 528 07 3379 7999

M & D Vegetable Specialists Pty Ltd Mark Moore 0418 784 249 07 3379 5500

Marendy & Sons Produce Mary Marendy 07 3379 1384

Marland Mushrooms Troy Marland 0439 968 878 07 3278 1112

Montague Fresh (Qld) Pty Ltd Hamish Montague 0408 750 869 07 3270 3175

Murray Bros Stephen Edwards 0438 949 911 07 3875 8100

Nutrano Produce - Bananas Dhirendra Thapa 0477 755 725 07 3107 1608

O'Toole Produce Paul O'Toole 0429 100 500 07 3278 1700

Perfection Fresh Australia Pty Ltd Jane Rowles 0400 877 020 07 3310 3900

Pershouse Produce

Peter Kedwell 0419 673 344 07 3379 3034

Priority Produce Steven Rosten 0413 199 904 07 3915 4140

R W Pascoe

Noel Greenhalgh 0417 744 935 07 3379 2686

Rising Sun Produce Christian Hoath 0427 747 464 07 3278 0555

Romeo's Marketing (QLD)

Ross & Co

Shamrock Marketing

So Crisp

Stanton & Son

Sutton Fresh Direct

Top Class Fruit Supply

United Lettuce

United Organics

Debbie Trimboli 0412 967 107 07 3278 5455

Ben Schimke 0408 200 831 07 3379 3043

Bob Koning 0408 727 027 07 3915 5010

Craig Chard 0419 734 587 07 3278 2133

Marc Stanton 0418 872 905 07 3294 8029

Richard Sutton 0434 157 900

John Mastroianni 0419 930 830 07 3278 6188

Daniel Spoto 0402 273 090 07 3379 9288

Martin Meek 0418 982 625 07 3278 5997

Viva Produce Paul Veivers 0418 452 594 07 3379 7309

Wholesale Produce Australia

Douglas Rylance 0418 748 096 07 3278 1724

27 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Brisbane Markets® Wholesalers suppor ng local Growers

There are over 49 Wholesalers who operate from the Brisbane Markets® at Rocklea and support Aussie Growers to market and sell their fresh produce.

As Queensland’s only Central Market, the Brisbane Markets® supply around 700,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables annually to local independent retailers, food service businesses, providores, and Secondary Wholesalers throughout Queensland and interstate. Some of the larger Wholesalers also supply to interna�onal export markets.

Brismark suppor ng the fresh produce industry

Brismark supports its Members by providing representa�on and services that assist them and their associated businesses with their opera�ons.

A range of business and training services as well as FreshTest® chemical residue and microbial produce tes�ng and Quality Assurance services are offered. Brismark’s Credit Service is also the clearing house for transac�ons that occur at the Brisbane Markets®.

Spreading the word about the benets of shopping local

Brismark and Brisbane Markets Limited invest signicant resources into a retailer program which is run by Brismark.

The marke�ng program educates consumers about the benets of shopping at their local independent A be er choice! fruit and vegetable retailer to support local growers and family-owned businesses.

Have a dispute? Our 1800 631 002 Grower Hotline can help

Brismark, partnered with Brisbane Markets Limited, operates the Brisbane Markets® free call Dispute Resolu�on Grower Hotline.

Any market related issues that Growers have can be reported and discussed through the free call number 1800 631 002.

To nd out which Wholesalers sell the produce you grow and how to get in touch, visit or email communica

Erbacher’s voted Queensland’s best

For the second year, Erbacher’s Fruit and Vegetables on the Sunshine Coast has won the A better choice! Retailer of the Year - People’s Choice Award for Queensland and come second overall in the national competition.

Nationally, the top spot was won by Adelaide Fresh Fruiterers in Morphett Vale, South Australia.

A joint initiative from Fresh Markets Australia and the Central Markets Association of Australia, A better choice! (ABC) supports more than 700 retailers across Australia and is the first national program designed to encourage consumers to shop for fresh produce at their local independent fruit and vegetable retailers.

This year has been full of challenges for the Australian fruit and vegetable industry, but the independent retailers with some good old-fashioned hard work, have dug deep and kept the fruit and vegetable supply chain going strong and provided the best produce Australia has to offer for their local communities.

The ABC Retailer of the Year People’s Choice Award is designed to highlight the stores that received the most nominations from their local community as their favourite store, in celebration of the quality, freshness and service provided at Aussie independent fruit and veg shops. This year over 16,000 shoppers nominated 428 individual stores as their favourite fruit and veg shop.

Angelina Campbell from Erbacher’s Fruit and Vegetables said, “We’d

like to say a big thank you to the community who nominated us, without you, there’s no us! We’re that old-school family-owned business so you get that family feel and good prices with friendly service.”

According to ABC Ambassador and Masterchef winner, Callum Hann, it is great to see the community come together to celebrate the hard work our retailers have done to continue to give people excellent quality fresh produce every day.

“The industry has been going through some pretty tough times over the last few years, and it’s great to give recognition to those that go above and beyond and stand out within the industry,” Mr Hann said.

“I believe it’s important to support independent retailers because it’s good to know you’re supporting the little guys, and you’re always guaranteed exceptional service and great quality produce.”

29 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Winning combination: the team at Erbacher’s Fruit and Vegetables celebrating their People’s Choice Award.


Australia’s best avo toast unveiled

Avocados Australia has found Australia’s Best Avo Toast dish!

The winner of the inaugural Australia’s Best Avo Toast competition was announced to coincide with National Avocado Day celebrations.

Little Hideout Café, based in Balmoral in Brisbane, was the winner of the Australia’s Best Avo Toast Competition with their stunning avocado dish, selected from 10 finalists.

Manish Shrestha, the owner and chef at Little Hideout, created the winning dish called ‘Seasonal Avocado’ and was presented with a golden avocado trophy.

The winning dish features a generous amount of sliced fresh avocado on top of a slice of ‘Wild Grains’ sourdough and served with roast tomato aioli. Piped balls of whipped fetta are dotted around the bread and are topped with thin slices of radish. A flamboyant smear of

deliciously creamy beetroot hummus surrounds the sourdough slice and then the whole dish is topped with sprinkles of homemade dukka.

Mr Shrestha from Little Hideout is excited about their win and proud that their dish has attracted attention.

“I carefully made this dish to ensure that all the flavours heroed fresh Australian avocado,” Mr Shrestha said.

“It is wonderful that Little Hideout’s dish stood out from all the entries and was selected the winner.”

Australia’s Best Avo Toast Competition judge and Avocados Australia’s CEO, John Tyas, was impressed with the entries and was particularly proud to see Australian avocados showcased in so many ways.

“It is wonderful to see how the Australian food service industry

champions fresh Australian avocados on a plate,” said John Tyas.

“We could tell from paddock-to-plate that Little Hideout’s dish is a standout using the freshest and best quality avocados.”

On hand to present the award were Peter Marinos from Big Michael’s Fruit & Vegetables who supply Little Hideout and Brent Chambers from Simpson Farms, one of the avocado growers who supply Big Michael’s.

“It is wonderful to know that the fresh Australian avocados that we supply to Little Hideout have won an award,” said Mr Marinos said.

“A lot of care goes into growing our quality avocados so it is great to know that the avocados Big Michael’s is supplying to Little Hideout are attracting such positive attention,” Mr Chambers said.

A better choice! for shoppers

Big changes have come to Queensland’s A better choice! Retailer Program.

In July, a new Free Member category was introduced and the program has grown to include almost 110 local fruit and vegetable shops from across Queensland.

The change came at the same time as an increase in consumertargeted advertising was rolled out, featuring Queenslandfocused television and radio advertisements which are now in market and will run consistently throughout the financial year.

The advertisements are designed to educate consumers about the many benefits of shopping at their local independent fruit and veg retailer and encourage consumers to shop where they see the A better choice! logo.

The advertisements also tell the story of the important role the Brisbane Markets at Rocklea plays in the supply chain as Queensland’s heart of fresh produce.

This advertising push comes on the back of successful national campaigns, including the Win a Holiday campaign which gave Queensland consumers the opportunity to win one of ten $500 travel vouchers as a thank you for supporting their local fruit and veg shop.

The campaign focused on the hardworking, and often multigenerational, families who run independent fruit and veg

shops, and the families in their communities who show their support by choosing to shop locally.

The multichannel campaign included ads on social media, radio, and Broadcast Video on Demand. Retailers were supplied with campaign collateral to display at point-of-sale and high traffic areas of their stores.

The campaign received more than 16,000 entries during the ten-week campaign. In Queensland, every store in the program received entries, highlighting the positive engagement amongst retailers and consumers alike. Each entry in the competition contributed towards the coveted ABC Retailer of the Year People’s Choice Award (see page 29 for more details).

Is your shop a better choice?

Are you the owner of a local fruit and veg shop? Interested in what A better choice! Retailer Program has to offer?

Contact Queensland’s ABC team to find out more. Simply give them a call on (07) 3915 4222 or 0457 486 280 to discuss you options.

Avo go: Brent Chambers (Simpson Farms), Peter Marinos (Big Michael’s Fruit & Vegetables), winner Manish Shrestha (Little Hideout), and John Tyas (CEO, Avocados Australia).
30 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Bee-bots solving pollination problems in greenhouses

A new study is investigating whether small autonomous drones can effectively pollinate tomatoes and strawberries in Australian protectedcropping environments and quash the need for manual methods.

Delivered through Hort Innovation, with Singaporean technology service provider Polybee, Western Sydney University and major Australian grower, Perfection Fresh, the new $1.3 m research project aims to improve labour and production efficiency.

Hort Innovation CEO, Brett Fifield, said covered cropping was growing rapidly in the horticulture sector.

“It allows farmers to manage their crop away from the impacts of weather, climate and also manage their inputs more thoroughly,” Mr Fifield said.

“Pollination is a key management tool that farmers [using] protected cropping have to manage, and this research is trying to allow them to do that more effectively, more efficiently and reduce their input costs.”

Mr Fifield said the pollination of tomatoes in glasshouses is often done by hand, with people having to go row by row to vibrate the plants to mimic ‘buzz’ pollination.

He also said strawberries represent an industry moving from typical field conditions and exploring the benefits of glasshouses, however honey bees, often seen pollinating strawberries, are not used in glasshouses because they do not cope well in that environment. Therefore, new alternatives need to be explored to help industries succeed in protected cropping environments.

“Pollinating self-fertile crops such as strawberries and tomatoes in protected cropping environments can be labour intensive and time-consuming,” Mr Fifield said. “What this new research aims to do is remove the need for manual pollination, while improving fruit set consistency to result in higher yield.”

Polybee Chief Executive, Siddharth Jadhav, said the micro-drones, which are about 15cm x 15cm in size, hover over each cluster of flowers for up to 15 seconds in a glasshouse setting. He said turbulent air from the drone vibrates the flowers to disperse pollen, before the drone moves on to the next plant.

What’s the buzz? Small autonomous drones are being used to pollinate plants in glasshouse environments in new research delivered by Hort Innovation (IMAGE: ABC Landline).

“Our drones have been developed for use in protected cropping environments with sub-centimetre accuracy positioning. Each utilises 3D vision techniques for precision, autonomous docking and wireless charging.”

Mr Jadhav said in operation, a glasshouse can be split into smaller bays, each of which is served by one drone.

“In an indoor farm, a drone takes off for pollination and plant measurements, returns to its base when it runs out of charge, recharges wirelessly within an hour and a half, and returns to operate from where it left off.”

Trials will be conducted in protected cropping environments at Western Sydney University and at Perfection Fresh farms in South Australia.

Perfection Fresh’s Taso Kourou said if the micro-drone technique proved effective at pollinating crops, it could present a ‘game-changer’ for industry.

“As production increasingly moves into protected environments, a

pollination solution that could reduce our dependency on labour for manual pollination, increase yield and help provide a more consistent fruit set would be valuable,” Mr Kourou said.

At the end of this project in September 2023, the autonomous pollination of strawberries and tomatoes will have been compared to conventional and alternative pollination techniques, and a report will be submitted recommending the next steps should the technology demonstrate high potential.

Western Sydney University project lead Professor James Cook, from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, said: “This project will test the effectiveness of this new technology in providing autonomous pollination as a scalable solution for commercial protected cropping, and information generated by the project will facilitate evidence-based decisions on the uptake of technology by growers.”

31 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022


Growing North Queensland horticulture

Challenges aside, it’s a fantastic time of the year to be living and growing in North Queensland.

Our region, like many others, was hammered through the autumn months with unseasonal rains having a serious impact on production of our winter vegetable crop. Losses of key commodities, such as tomatoes, were reported to be in the tens of millions.

Producers were resilient in adjusting to these conditions, readily getting out to make repairs to their properties and planting new crop, ensuring they could go some way to recouping their costs.

As North Queensland growing regions move from winter vegetables into the mango season, the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) continues to make advancements around a number of key initiatives to future proof our industry.

Bowen Pipeline

BGGA, along with a number of producers in the Gumlu and Bowen regions, attended meetings on the Bowen Pipeline project to support the water demand assessment being undertaken and gain some understanding toward the expected cost and availability of future water through this project.

Although still some way off, the project has the potential to increase land in the region under irrigation by 11,000 ha and offer benefits toward long-term water security.

Connected Farms

Another initiative developing in the region is the Connected Farms precinct in Bowen. Over the next few months, the region will see a new fixed wireless tower and data centre installed locally and established specifically for improved digital connectivity and bandwidth available to producers in the area.

Increased connectivity will allow producers to implement and adopt additional technology and agtech to their farms such as wireless sensors, internetenabled devices, automation and other

precision technology that we hope improves production and efficiency for producers in the region.

Technology Uptake Program

BGGA has entered into an agreement with AgriFutures Australia to deliver a project under the National Producer Technology Uptake Program.

The program is focused on supporting access for farmers to new technology, increasing their awareness of new innovations in machinery, computer and production systems, wireless, digital and other technologies.

Growers involved in the program will participate in a one-day workshop with a specialist facilitator to discuss current business practices, challenges and technology focused options to address the challenges.

This will be followed up by a grower group study tour to another producing

region in Australia to observe and gain information on relevant technologies and agtech in practice and, finally, participation in on-farm demonstrations and trials of new technology.

Growers participating will also be able to access an online resource being developed by AgriFutures Australia to more easily connect with agtech vendors, obtain pricing and identify the potential return on investment that may be made through adopting new technology in their business.

Through all the challenges facing the industry, it’s important to maintain perspective that many of our current issues, be it bad weather or cost of inputs, will hopefully only be temporary.

If we ensure we are continuously looking forward and pursuing new ways to adapt, be more productive or sustainable, then we will ensure our industry is able to meet any challenge and continue to be prosperous for our growers and communities into the future.

Technology in the spotlight: This drone from NQ Aerovation is just one of a swathe of technology that was on display at the BGGA Innovation Field Day in November.
32 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Sensors for smarter decisions

A pilot ‘Smart Farm’ is using novel sensors and multiple streams of data to develop a system to help vegetable growers farm more efficiently, maintain records for certification and better understand their crops.

Located in Bundaberg at the property of Australia’s largest chilli producer, Austchilli, the Smart Farm is part of a project looking at digital remote monitoring to improve horticulture’s environmental performance.

The project is being delivered by Hort Innovation – with support from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the National Landcare Smart Farming Partnerships Program. It is a collaboration between Applied Horticultural Research (AHR), Hitachi, Freshcare, Growcom, Greenlife Industry Australia, the Australian Banana Growers Council, Avocados Australia, AUSVEG and Austchilli.

While researchers at AHR are assisting the farm managers with the installation and operation of the sensors, a team of developers at Hitachi are incorporating the data outputs into a unified, easy to understand, digital dashboard.

The goal of the project is to create a system where farm management decisions are not made based on one single metric or source of data. As Austchilli owner David De Paoli says, it’s not about any one sensor – but the complete system.

“Each unit plays its part in data gathering to give you the whole picture. This then drives the automation,” Mr De Paoli said.

Current sensors operating on the Smart Farm include soil moisture, pH and electrical conductivity, a weather station, and in-field high-definition cameras to monitor vital crop growth stages.

AUSVEG Project Officer, Ian Thomas, said that a variety of new sensors have recently been added to measure leaching of nutrients and ground run-off.

“New, and sometimes novel, sensors have been integrated into the system since the establishment of the farm. A notable new inclusion is a dendrometer, which typically is used to measure miniscule contraction and expansions in the trunks of tree crops, placed onto a growing chilli fruit,” Mr Thomas said.

“The data from this sensor will provide a better understanding and record of plant transpiration and growth rates and assist in irrigation and nutrient applications. As the sensor data is collected over multiple crops, the record will provide an invaluable record for understanding yearly differences in crop performance and yield.”

The project is also looking into ways of automating recording keeping for certification systems, such as Freshcare Environmental and the Hort 360 Reef Certification.

Automating the complicated process of record keeping for environmental certification will likely become an important cost-saving tool as more growers look to do their part in maintaining Australia’s environmental standards.

Sensitive research: A dendrometer attached to growing chilli to track plant growth cycles (IMAGE: Henry Hyde, Applied Horticultural Research).

Mr De Paoli is hopeful that the system being developed will begin being used in real-time farm decision making within the year.

An audit of the efficiency of the pilot Smart Farm inputs will be conducted once all the monitoring systems have been integrated into the digital dashboard. However, the project still has a long way to go before reaching its goals.

“My staff are currently using the data now but there is still human decision-making in the delivery of inputs,” Mr De Paoli said.

“It’s now not a guess – it’s real data in real time. With the automation controlling the inputs, I can rest easy knowing that if its Friday afternoon or the weekend, attention to detail will continue and I won’t get fruit drop or blossom end rot.”

33 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022


Financial assistance to build farm resilience

Horticultural growers can now access the new Farm Business Resilience Program (FBRP).

The new assistance measures will help growers to review all aspects of their business, develop plans, and access grants and loans through Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) or private financier.

What is the Farm Business Resilience Program?

Jointly funded under the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and Queensland Government’s Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, the FBRP builds the strategic management capacity of Queensland horticultural growers to prepare for and manage business and climate risks.

Who is eligible to participate?

All Queensland horticulture growers and primary producers across all agriculture sectors. For more details on eligibility requirements, visit the QRIDA website:

What financial assistance is available?

The following financial assistance measures are now available through the QRIDA. Growers will need to have

a completed FBRP when applying for assistance. For more information or to apply, visit: drought-support

Farm Management Grant Program

A rebate of 50% to a maximum of $2,500 for the professional cost of developing a FBRP.

Drought Preparedness Grants

A rebate of up to 25% to a maximum of $50,000 for on-farm capital improvements identified in your FBRP. For example, drilling of a bore.

Drought Ready and Recovery Loans

A concessional interest loan of up to $250,000 to undertake preparedness measures identified in your Farm Business Resilience Plan. For example, installing water infrastructure, expanding dams, improving irrigation. This is a complimentary measure to the Drought Preparedness Grants.

Emergency Drought Assistance Loans

An interest-free concessional loan of up to $50,000 for drought-declared primary producers to finance carry-on activities like paying wages or creditors during


Drought Carry-On Finance Loan Scheme

A concessional interest loan of up to $250,000 for drought carry-on finance. These loans will be available where the $50,000 Emergency Drought Assistance Loans Scheme is insufficient. Applicant must be drought declared.

Getting started: Preparing your Farm Business Resilience Plan

To apply for the above loans or grants, you will need an FBRP or similar. This plan helps you identify, assess, and manage business risks such as drought, by developing strategies and actions to address these risks.

You can complete your plan online, or with the assistance of one of Growcom’s Resilience Officers, who use their best management practice program for horticulture, Hort360, to develop business plans.

To enrol in the program and use Hort360 to develop your plan visit If not already, you will need to register with Hort360.

Once you have completed your FBRP you can apply for financial support through the QRIDA website or speak with your local QRIDA Officer for further assistance.

Make the connection

34 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

A profession with a difference

For school leavers, university students and people looking for a career change, the Brisbane Markets can offer a diverse range of career opportunities with ample room for growth and development.

As Queensland’s heart of fresh produce, the Brisbane Markets is the only central market for the wholesale trade of fresh fruit and vegetable in Queensland. More than 4,500 people work or do business at the markets each day through over 170 employers.

General Manager at Murray Bros, Susan Lewis, said that the Brisbane Markets provided her with a real career opportunity, starting as a teenager with the wholesale business and working her way up through the organisation.

“I started my career at just 17 years of age as a cashier at Murray Bros. Since then, I have worked in many different roles – from administration, accounts, data entry and office management, to being a Personal Assistant to the Managing Director. Now I’m the General Manager of the organisation,” Mrs Lewis said.

With opportunities such as business management, importing and exporting, finance, marketing, sales, logistics, administration, forklift driving, warehousing, and cadetships,

Brisbane Markets: employment hub

To increase awareness about the job opportunities within the fresh produce supply chain, Brismark and Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) joined forces to showcase the Brisbane Markets as a career and employment hub at the recent Brisbane Careers and Employment Expo.

Attended by more than 12,000 high school students, university students and adults looking at changing careers, the expo helped position the Brisbane Markets as a dynamic career destination with a wide

the markets are a great place to develop industry relevant knowledge and skills.

For Alex Young of Romeo’s Marketing, her job at the markets was meant to be a short stint but turned into a rewarding career. “I took a gap year, and after working at the markets, I decided to build my career here. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles and develop my skillset. I love the small-business feel. It’s fast-paced, and you have the opportunity to take on a lot of responsibility and grow yourself,” said Ms Young.

range of employment opportunities.

The Brisbane Markets stand at the Brisbane Careers and Employment Expo was sponsored by Montague, Murray Bros and Armstrong Bros.

To find out more about career opportunities at the Brisbane Markets visit or to learn more about Brismark Recruitment Services visit www.

Climbing the career ladder: Susan Lewis, General Manager of Murray Bros.
35 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022
Promoting Brisbane Markets as an employment hub during the Brisbane Careers and Employment Expo were Brismark’s Lara Giles and Lisa Dwyer.

Workforce initiatives get funding extension

Queensland’s Rural Jobs Initiatives, which support agribusiness to attract, train and retain workers for good jobs in agriculture, has been renewed for another three years following the announcement of state government funding of $4.416 million.

The Rural Jobs Initiatives include the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) and the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RSJA), which have assisted agribusinesses on more than 23,000 occasions, leading to over 12,000 good jobs supported and 8,000 training and education outcomes since 2016.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, said the extension of the program would be welcome news to the agricultural sector, which requires an increasingly skilled workforce.

“With this funding, new agreements with industry partners can be negotiated in line with investment priorities to support the sector on a range of workforce matters and ensure future skills development pathways are considered for sustainable business operations,” Mr Furner said.

QAWN officers are funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, hosted by industry/economic bodies located throughout the state, and deliver a free service to agribusinesses with operations in Queensland, regardless of commodity or organisation membership. QAWN officers are hosted by FNQ Growers, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, CANEGROWERS Mackay, CHRRUP, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, and Growcom.

Building farm skills in the Wide Bay

For agriculture businesses to be sustainable, they need a consistent and reliable workforce.

The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network provides workforce and training support to agri-businesses to generate and train potential employees.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Agriculture Workforce Officer, Kylie Jackson, said much of her work is educating businesses of the availability of the service and working with local workforce sources, such as high schools and employment service providers, to generate interest and motivation to work in the industry. She also develops career pathways for those who demonstrate a genuine desire to make agriculture a future career.

AgProspects is a suite of employment programs developed in collaboration with regional employers, sector representatives and local high schools to respond to the growing need to educate and motivate local jobseekers to consider a career in agriculture.

“The AgProspects pre-employment program includes a combination of accreditation, personal development tools and work experience,” Ms Jackson said.

“It is delivered in a way that simulates the agriculture industry, and helps jobseekers prepare for work and provides them with real job

opportunities at the end. Participating businesses are heavily involved in the design with the program completed over eight weeks. With a 70% employment outcome, this program can help businesses develop a skilled and versatile workforce that can transfer between seasons and commodities.”

Youth are a vital element to building a sustainable workforce and the Holiday Harvest program provides students from years 9-12 opportunities to taste the industry and gain real work experience during school holidays.

“The program was developed in collaboration with Bundaberg Cane Growers and a local high school to provide opportunities for young people to enter the agriculture industry,” Ms Jackson said.

“Holiday Harvest allows students to identify if they have a long-term career in the industry or are using the time to earn some great money.

“Holiday Harvest allows me to identify students who would be suitable to transition into school-based traineeships.

“With interest growing, the horticulture sector in Wide Bay has used this recruitment strategy to employ three new trainees with different end career goals: agronomy, farm management and a little bit of everything.”

Working for the holidays: A Year 10 participant in Bundaberg’s Holiday Harvest program.

Want to implement AgProspects in your region?

Both AgProspects programs have the capacity to be rolled into regions beyond the Wide Bay. If you would like to know more about this initiative, contact Kylie Jackson on 0488 533 801 or email

36 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022

Pick Paradise promotes jobs in North QLD

A new workforce attraction campaign has been launched in an effort to encourage job seekers to ‘Pick Paradise’ when searching for jobs.

A joint initiative between the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) and the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network with funding from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, #PickParadise is designed to attract and retain a workforce within the agriculture and aquaculture industries and focuses on the beauty of North Queensland and the work-life balance on offer.

At its core, #PickParadise is a digital platform – – featuring a bespoke job noticeboard for the free advertising of roles in horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture workplaces.

Connecting to dedicated social media pages and profiles, the platform targets specific demographics within Australia to promote diverse occupations within the sector.

BGGA Chief Executive Officer, Ry Collins, said it was a perfect time to reignite interest in working in the Bowen Gumlu region.

“With the mango season beginning in November, workers in the region could be guaranteed ongoing positions in a variety of roles,” Mr Collins said.

“Pick Paradise also presents a new opportunity for growers to advertise upcoming positions for free on the website and then use the hashtag #pickparadise to remain connected across social media.”

BGGA President, Carl Walker, said he welcomed the funding from state government to continue to support growers through the workforce labour and skills shortage.

“It is vital that we continue to innovate new ways to attract workers to the region. #PickParadise demonstrates the ways we can support our industry through contemporary workforce planning practices,” Mr Walker said.

BGGA is also running a Holiday Harvest Job Program as a way to encourage youth engagement with agricultural careers. The program is designed to recruit, employ, build industry knowledge and skills, develop student soft skills and build an industry workforce. The program will be piloted across the Burdekin region in 2022 with the hope to expand to the Bowen and Proserpine regions in 2023.

For more information on the Pick Paradise campaign visit or contact Colette Williams on 0427 009 929.

New face for QAWN in North QLD

In North Queensland, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) is hosting a new Workforce Development Officer through the the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN), Colette Williams.

Ms Williams has been a long-term resident of the Bowen and surrounding region, living both in the Bowen and Collinsville communities for over 18 years.

“I am looking forward to establishing, fostering, and maintaining strong, sustainable partnerships with and

between growers, regional agricultural industry bodies, enterprises, and relevant employment, training and education providers, including schools and universities,” Ms Williams said.

“I will focus on supporting the workforce to develop a multi-skill set to work across the calendar year. I believe that building trusting and authentic relationships with key partners will assist in addressing current and future workforce challenges.”

Ms Williams’ focus over the coming

years will be to grow her profile to be at the forefront of growers’ minds when thinking about recruitment, attraction, and retention with the agricultural and fisheries industries.

Ms Williams has begun her networking and relationship building by visiting local growers, working alongside key local employment agencies, and establishing connections with educational facilities in local areas. During such networking opportunities, Colette hopes to gain great insights into the varied challenges faced by growers in North Queensland.

Launching in paradise: Belinda Williams (Stackelroth Farms), Ry Collins (BGGA) and BGGA’s new Workforce Development Officer, Colette Williams, at the launch of the #pickparadise campaign. Job seekers are being encouraged to #pickparadise.
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New supply chain service for exporters

A service providing real-time supply chain and logistics information to Australian exporters of perishable produce was launched at Brisbane Markets recently.

Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell was at the markets to announce the new Export Supply Chain Service, which will help exporters navigate ‘new-look’ supply chains and a changed international trade environment.

“One of the biggest ongoing challenges for exporters is getting their produce to international customers,” Mr Farrell said.

“This new supply chain service gives Australian exporters the real-time information and insights they need to navigate complex global supply chains.”

The advisory service will be delivered by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), providing ongoing assistance to small to medium enterprises as the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) winds down.

IFAM was a temporary, targeted emergency measure that maintained essential airfreight supply lines impacted by COVID-19 disruptions throughout the height of the global pandemic.

The Australian Government Freight Controller, Air ViceMarshal Margaret Staib, said businesses must adjust to the new global trading environment.

“While pathways to trade internationally are being restored, businesses must recalibrate and adjust to current trade conditions. Supply chains are different to pre-COVID, but opportunities exist for businesses ready to innovate and adapt,” AVM Staib said.

“IFAM helped stem wholesale job losses across farming, aviation and freight sectors. Around 35,000 jobs directly and over 120,000 jobs indirectly in agriculture, seafood, aviation and logistics were at risk when airfreight collapsed.

“Now, with IFAM winding down, exporters must adapt to the new world of supply chain challenges, and we’re here to help them access the insights and information they need to do that,” AVM Staib said.

Advisory service launched: Andrew Young (Brisbane Markets Limited Managing Director and CEO), Don Farrell (Federal Minister for Trade and Tourism), Ben Bartlett (J.H. Leavy & Co CEO), Graham Perrett (Federal Member for Moreton) and Stephanie Smith (Austrade Global Engagement Manager).
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Brisbane Markets Limited Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Young, welcomes Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell, to Brisbane Markets.

Collaboration aims to expand export capability

The nation’s melon, onion and vegetable growers have joined forces to develop a $13.7 m export development program in a time of rising trade capacity within the industries and strong Australian produce demand.

Delivered through Hort Innovation using industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, and led by vegetable representative body, AUSVEG, with support from Onions Australia and Melons Australia, the five-year initiative will build export capability and support sustainability over time.

Hort Innovation head of trade, Brei Montgomery, said the multi-industry export program is a first for the horticulture industry and will see a collaborative approach for growers in the vegetable, onion and melon industries.

“For the onion, vegetable and melon

industries, working together makes sense,” she said.

“They all share similar objectives to strengthen their overseas trade positions through a strategic, collaborative approach.”

Underpinning the program are various export capabilities and market development activities delivered by AUSVEG through Hort Innovation. The new program includes the provision of sophisticated market intelligence data and insights for growers. On top of that, tailored advice on value-adding for export and a comprehensive program will provide growers with opportunities to re-engage with export markets and networks.

Melons Australia CEO, Johnathon Davey, said that there were plenty of synergies in the export development work that

AUSVEG undertakes for the vegetable industry that relate to the outcomes that the melon industry has identified as priorities in building its capabilities in export.

“The melon industry has identified growing export markets as a key priority for the industry moving forward, and it makes sense for our industry to work with AUSVEG in this project,” said Mr Davey.

Onions Australia Executive Committee member and exporter, Tim Groom, said the multi-industry export program will support a strong history of successful trade and relationship building.

“The Australian onion industry produces the second largest vegetable crop exported from Australia with a significant portion of mature growers who have a strong export focus,” he said.

“What this program will do is underpin decades of hard work by the industry and offer new insights and approaches that build on our success.”

Members gather to hear the news on exports

Australian Horticulture Exporters’ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Members Forum in Melbourne recently.

A new Board was elected, and Joseph Saina was re-elected as Chair and Cameron Carter was re-elected as Vice Chair. Two new additions to the Board were Joseph Ekman from Fresh Produce Group (FPG) and Christian Jones from Perfection Fresh. Both new members are expected to add great value to the Board for the year 2022/23.

The Member’s Forum held after the AGM was a great success with representatives from the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry answering some tough questions from members relating to import inspection delays and portal issues.

David Ironside (Assistant Secretary, DAFF Plant Export Operations) discussed horticultural exports with members, including market access and what DAFF are doing to ease costs for

growers, packing sheds and exporters.

Chair, Joseph Saina, told members that up until the pandemic Australia had enjoyed some of the cheapest and fastest freight in the world, which offset our high shed door cost of production.

“We are able to load fruit here and go to Japan in nine days out of Brisbane. That’s very fast compared to our competitor nations,” Mr Saina said.

Mr Saina said current global logistics constraints have undermined this edge. In the longer term, improvements in controlled atmosphere transport technologies stand to benefit our competitors, but they will still struggle to close the quality gap.

Wayne Prowse from Fresh Intelligence is always a welcome guest at AHEIA’s forums, and he did not disappoint this year. Wayne presented a snapshot of the export and import products by volume/ market/value. It was a surprise to see that export volumes were similar for the last two years of COVID, but volumes

were down by approximately 18% when compared with the year prior to COVID. Imports were also down.

Shipping remains a major issue for exporters and importers. Our members are experiencing ships that are arriving at the destination port up to six weeks overdue. Increased rates (in some instances 150% more than pre-covid rates), lack of timely information regarding shipping schedules, departure and arrival times and last-minute changes are causing a lot of angst with our members.

With the issues relating to shipping in mind, AHEIA has teamed up with Freight Trade Alliance/Australian Peak Shipping Association (FTA/APSA) so that we can provide our members with up-to-date information regarding shipping, port issues and shipping alerts.

Through AHEIA, our members can also access FTA/APSA’s resources such as seminars, webinars and HR and legal support if necessary.

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A weapon against counterfeits

The Reid Fruits brand for premium Tasmanian cherries is wellknown in the export market and for years the operation has had issues with copycats trying to capitalise on its brand and the premium prices it attracts in the marketplace.

This counterfeit product has entailed increasingly sophisticated attempts to copy Reid Fruits-branded packaging and substitute product with lower quality cherries from other countries.

Reid Fruits was looking at options to add another layer of protection to its brand and product, and are now the first Australian horticultural exporter to combine Source Certain’s provenance verification technology with Laava Smart Fingerprint scannable technology, and e-commerce and digital marketing company RooLife Group’s consumer engagement and social commerce platform.

Source Certain’s forensic provenance testing offered them the ability to identify cherries grown on their company orchards in Tasmania and, if necessary, scientifically prove that cherries in suspected counterfeit product claiming to be Reid Fruits brand are not genuine.

According to Reid Fruits Manager Marketing and Sales, Tony Coad, the company is now in their second year of the program and their experience has been great.

“Source Certain has worked closely with us and has been flexible on developing and organising the sampling schedule which has not had any impact on our normal daily operations at all,” Mr Coad said.

“The sampling analysis reports were fascinating for us and easy to follow. We were able to identify and verify the provenance of cherries to the orchard of origin.”

To begin the project, Source Certain collected samples of all

Indonesia told pears ‘grown in good nature’

Hort Innovation has launched a new Australian pear promotional campaign in Indonesia spearheaded by a new tagline ‘Grown in Good Nature’.

Hannah Wade, Australian trade and investment commissioner to Indonesia, said Indonesia was a very important market for the Australian pear industry, with Australia supplying almost 1,000 tonnes of pears in 2021.

“Australia has an excellent reputation as a supplier of clean, safe, nutritious and high-quality fresh fruit,” Ms Wade said.

“A range of premium quality fresh Australian pears will be available from August to October at retail stores across Indonesia. We think that the different taste profiles of the new varieties of pears like Rico (a red blush pear) will appeal to a broad range of consumers.”

Reid Fruits cherry varieties from each of the three orchards. The team was able to confidently distinguish between fruit originating from the three different production sites using their scientific provenance verification technology, TSW Trace®.

TSW Trace determines the chemical profile of a produce, which reflects the geographical location of where that product was grown. It analyses chemical, molecular, elemental and isotopic indicators that products naturally absorb from their environment.

“With cherry samples taken from orchards, Source Certain was able to confidently distinguish between fruit originating from our three different production sites. Then, through analysis of samples from different market locations, were able to verify these had come from our orchards,” Mr Coad said.

To find out more about Source Certain visit

Tariffs reduced on Aussie citrus to India

India and Australia have reached an interim outcome in free trade agreement negotiations that will reduce tariffs on Australian citrus exports by 50%.

When enacted, the interim agreement will allow the entry of 13,700 tonnes of Australian citrus into India at a reduced tariff of 15%. The agreement coincides with a renewed effort by Citrus Australia to increase exports to the subcontinent.

The citrus industry is one of the largest exporters of fresh fruit in Australia. As much as $540 million of fresh Australian citrus is exported each year. Citrus Australia believes the subcontinent, including India, is a potentially significant growth area for Australian citrus exports.

Providing certainty: Tasmanian cherries at the Source Certain lab in Bibra Lake, Perth.
Export 40 FRESH SOURCE Summer 2022


20k for the Mango Tray!

A new Mango Monarch has been crowned, with Sam Etri taking the coveted title of Mango King for 2022 with his $20,000 bid.

The owner of Skippy’s Fresh Frootz in Victoria Point, Skippy’s Farmhouse in Southport and new store opening soon, Skippy’s Market Fresh in Rothwell, Mr Etri said the annual Mango Auction is the perfect way to give back to the community and support the worthy charities, Redkite, who providing practical, financial, and mental health support to families who have a child with cancer, and The Lady Musgrave Trust, who provide practical solutions that save lives and transition young women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to a life of opportunity and prosperity.

“Our store in Victoria Point does a lot to support charities, so we wanted to step up and support these worthwhile charities on a bigger scale. I enjoy helping and feeding people so if there’s an opportunity to help, we jump at it and that’s what we’ve done with the Mango Auction,” Mr Etri said.

Mr Etri said mangoes marked the beginning of summer and the holiday season.

“Mango season is a busy time of year in the fruit shops, a lot of people love their mangoes and it’s exciting when they start appearing. The flavour of mango is synonymous with summer, you just can’t beat it,” he said.

Not content to sit on his laurels, Mr Etri is already planning a tilt at next year’s symbolic first tray of mangoes.

“I am very happy to take the title of Mango King for the year, we’ll definitely take advantage of the crown while we have it.

I’ll also be along to the Mango Auction next year to try to keep the title in the Skippy’s family and become the permanent Mango King,” Mr Etri said.

Brisbane Markets Limited Chair, Anthony Kelly, said that it was great to see the markets community gather to support the two charities who provide such valuable assistance to Queensland families.

“Mango season is a very special time in Queensland, signalling that summer is on its way, and our annual Mango Auction is the perfect way to celebrate,” Mr Kelly said.

“We are delighted to have been able to raise close to $30,000 for Redkite and The Lady Musgrave Trust through the Mango Auction so they can continue to support families in the community.”

The newly-crowned Mango King, Sam Etri from Skippy’s Fresh Frootz, Farmhouse and Market Fresh.
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Thanks to our sponsors:

The Lady Musgrave Trust’s Louise Kelly and Victoria Parker, Mango King Sam Etri, and Redkite’s Thea Sitcheff and Georgia Field. ABC Breakfast’s Loretta Ryan and Craig Zonca were on hand to cover all the excitement of the Mango Auction live on radio. 2021 Mango King, Dom Casegrande of MegaFresh Chandler and Carina, escorts the symbolic first tray of mangoes into the arena. Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, and 2021 Mango King, Dom Casegrande, battle it out for the title of best mango slicer.
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BML Chair, Anthony Kelly, and Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Young, congratulate Sam Etri on taking the Mango Monarch title.


Fai takes the title of Forklift Operator of the Year

A new Forklift Operator of the Year has been crowned after a tightly contested grand final at the Brisbane Produce Market on Thursday, 27 October, with Soolefai Fale from GNL Produce taking out the top spot for the second time.

The event saw the top ten contestants battle it out over a timed, practical course, losing precious seconds for every error they made.

In a close contest that came down to the wire, Mr Fale took out the top prize of $3,000, with a spectacular final time of 2 minutes and 1 second. Joseph Kalolo from Armstrong Bros came second with a time of 2 minutes and 13 seconds, scoring $1,500 for his efforts.

Costa Farm’s Finau brothers, Na’a and Alfred who won in 2019 and 2021 respectively, were fighting it out for third place, with Alfred taking the lead on points to take the $500 prize money with a time of 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

Mr Fale last won the competition in 2018 as a plucky 21-year-old and came third in 2017 and 2019. He said that he maintained his edge this year by just focusing on the task at hand.

“I feel grateful and blessed to be number one, but I think all the contestants are winners,” Mr Fale said.

“I noticed some of the others were really nervous, thinking about the future and making mistakes. To win, you really need to live in the moment. I was shocked that I won though, I thought Joseph had me for a bit there!”

The event is hosted by Brisbane Markets Limited (BML), with the support of event sponsors Toyota Material Handling, The Drug Detection Agency, SBP Australia, Veolia and Brismark.

Soolefai Fale is the 2022 Brisbane Produce Market Forklift Operator of the Year.
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Brisbane Markets is home to 365 registered forklifts and 1,030 forklift operator permits are active on site, according to BML Director and Brisbane Produce Market wholesaler, Stephen Edwards.

“The Forklift Operator of the Year competition is a great way to recognise the hard, often overlooked, work that our forklift operators do at this site. They are really put to the test during this competition and the top three really are the cream of the crop,” Mr Edwards said.

After competing in a month-long observation period, where they were scored on their adherence to safety and traffic rules on the Brisbane Markets site, the entrants are narrowed down to the top 10 who competed in the grand final obstacle course in front of the crowd that gathered within the Brisbane Produce Market to watch the spectacle.

Mr Fale encouraged other forklift operators to get involved in the event, saying you have to be in it to win it.

“Just take part, what have you go to lose? It’s $3,000 up for grabs!” he said.

Thanks to our sponsors:

Deftly manoeuvres: Soolefai Fale negotiates the course. In the spotlight: Lhiana Kennedy reverses her way through the pallet corral. First timer: Nathan Heskett was the first to take the field and it was his first time entering the event.
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Winning company: BML’s Stuart Lummis, Andrew Young, Jessie Field and Stephen Edwards congratulate Soolefai Fale (centre) on his win.

Gala Dinner 2022

Markets community shines at Gala Dinner

The Markets community gathered to celebrate the people and culture of the horticulture industry at the 2022 Brisbane Produce Market Gala Dinner on Friday, 29 July.

Over 500 attendees donned their cocktail best and came together in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Plaza Ballroom to commemorate Brisbane Markets Limited (BML)’s 20 years of industrybased ownership of the Brisbane Markets with a fantastic night of food, entertainment and laughter.

Queensland’s Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, opened the festivities, which included acknowledgement of 40 Year Service Award recipients, performances by percussion ensemble, SoundStruck and Australia’s number one stand-up ventriloquist, the hilarious Darren Carr.

BML’s Chair, Anthony Kelly, also paid tribute to his predecessor, Tony Joseph AM, who retired last year after 20 years as BML’s Chair.

The evening was made possible by BML and Brismark, who thank their sponsors Toyota Material Handling Australia, SBP Australia, New Era Technology, Crisp Power and Control, Advance Group of Companies, Hopgood Ganim Lawyers, Origin LPG, Flick Anticimex and Veolia.

The crowd hits the dance floor at the 2022 Brisbane Produce Market Gala Dinner.

Agriculture Minister, Mark Furner, addresses the audience.
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Tony Joseph AM with BML Chair, Anthony Kelly.

SoundStruck strike a chord.

Awarded for 40 years of service

During the evening, awards were presented to those who had reached the remarkable achievement of being associated with Brisbane Markets for 40 years.

The Awards were presented by Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Hon. Mark Furner and Brisbane Markets Limited Chair, Anthony Kelly, and recognise members of the markets community who have dedicated 40 years or more to serving the wholesaling sector of the fresh produce industry, and the Brisbane Markets.

Arthur Pouloudis

David John Pershouse

Jimmy Mousikos

Vince Mailli

It is no small feat to achieve such a milestone and all 40 Year Service Award recipients are celebrated, and the markets community thanks them for their commitment to the industry.

Live cover band, Party Trick, kept the Gala pumping into the night.
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BML Chair, Anthony Kelly, and Queensland Agriculture Minister, Mark Furner, presented 40 Year Service Awards to those who could attend the Gala Dinner: Arthur Pouloudis, David Pershouse, Jimmy Mousikos, Vince Mailli, Lachlan Armstrong (who collected the 2021 award on behalf of Drew Armstrong) and John Coleman (who collected his award from 2021).
With thanks to our Major sponsors:
Anthony Gribben Cyril Erbacher Peter Erbacher Peter Smith Ventriloquist, Darren Carr, entertains the audience with his mini-me.

Central markets the centrepiece for Hort Connections Trade Show

Over 3,000 professionals from across the fresh produce industry converged on the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in June for Hort Connections 2022.

Exploring the theme ‘Growing Together’, the 2022 Hort Connections conference program included over 40 expert speakers discussing the big issues facing the industry.

Additionally, around 200 companies showcased their products at the popular Hort Connections Trade Show, of which the Central Markets Association of Australia (CMAA) and Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) were the joint major sponsor, representing all of Australia’s central markets and chambers.

The centrepiece of this year’s exhibition was once again the CMAA/FMA pavilion, which displayed produce sourced from central market wholesalers

across Australia. The conference and trade show were run by the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) and Ausveg.

IFPA A-NZ Chief Executive, Darren Keating, said the event celebrated the strength of the Australasian fresh produce industry.

“The energy has been absolutely electric,” Keating said. “The trade show was pumping from the moment we opened the doors on Monday evening and our conference programme was packed with high-end insights and discussions.

“This success of this year’s event highlights the value our industry places on forming quality connections; people have travelled here from across the country, not just because they can finally catch up with friends, colleagues and customers, but because they want to.”

Rosa Arcella (Archella Bananas), Nicole Gibbels, Hamish Montague (Montague Queensland) and Ian Gibbels (Arcella Bananas) at the Hort Connections Trade Show. Fresh Markets Australia General Manager, Gail Woods, meets new Federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, at the Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets stand. The Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets stand was a popular backdrop for media attending the Trade Show.
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AUSVEG Chair, Bill Bulmer, and Senator Susan McDonald visit the Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets stand.

Market tour creates connections

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) played host to Hort Connections delegates with attendees reporting the tours opened their eyes to the workings of the central markets.

As part of the Hort Connections Farm Tours, over 100 growers, industry representatives and delegates from Australia’s other central markets attended BML’s tours through the Brisbane Produce Market selling floor.

Guests were treated to breakfast and a guided tour of the facilities, learning how Brisbane Markets operates, how wholesalers utilise the purpose-built facilities of the site, and the history of Queensland’s central market.

The tour also provided a starting point for important networking at the Hort Connections Trade Show, with many attendees visiting the joint central markets’ and chambers’ stand under

the banner of Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets, and inquiring further about Brisbane Markets and its wholesalers.

During Hort Connections, BML received extensive positive feedback about the

tour, including the professional site presentation, informative tour guides and the variety and quality of the produce on display.

Foodbank Queensland thanks markets for lending a hand

Wholesalers from around the nation had their fresh produce on display at the Hort Connections Trade Show, with Foodbank Queensland benefitting from a sizeable donation.

The produce displays not only drew the eyes of the thousands of delegates who attended the trade show, but an ongoing relationship with Foodbank saw that same produce donated to the needy at the trade show’s conclusion.

“Fresh, nutritious food is vital for those in need across our state. With many Queenslanders still displaced from their homes following months of wild weather, every donation helps families in need put food on the table,” said Foodbank Queensland CEO, Sara Harrup.

The donations from the trade show alone were enough to create 4,300 meals for those in need.

Ms Harrup encouraged Brisbane Markets wholesalers to remember Foodbank when disposing of unwanted product and thanked Brisbane Markets Limited for its support in providing ongoing access to the market to collect produce right from wholesalers’ warehouses.

“Having this partnership with Brisbane Markets Limited gives us the confidence that we will have ongoing access to this very essential produce and that it will always be available to us to feed those in need,” she said.

BML Communications Manager, Luke Leeson, escorts a group of Hort Connections delegates around the trading floor. Representatives from all of Australia’s central markets and chambers with Jacqui Payne of Foodbank Australia.
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Conference puts Fair Farms in the spotlight

The inaugural Fair Farms National Conference and Awards were held in Coffs Harbour in October, with almost 100 stakeholders from across the fresh produce supply chain in attendance.

Fair Farms is an industry-owned program delivered by Growcom and designed to help growers improve their compliance with workplace laws, whilst also demonstrating their commitment to treating workers in a fair, ethical and responsible manner. It is the only Australia-wide training and certification program for fair and ethical employment practices on farm.

The conference featured an impressive roster of speakers presenting on various horticulture workplace relations topics, including David Littleproud MP, Dr James Cockayne (NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner), Catherina Velisha (Velisha Farms), Rachel Mackenzie (Berries Australia), and Steve Ronson (Fair Work Ombudsman). But the highlight of the event was the inspirational story of Australia’s first Winter Olympics gold medalist, Steven Bradbury.

Fair Farms National Program Manager, Sachin Ayachit, expressed his joy at the great success of the conference.

“From the moment our wonderful MC Richard Shannon started off the conference, the room was abuzz with excitement at what was to be an informative and fun event,” Mr Ayachit said.

“Special thanks to our incomparable keynote speaker Steven Bradbury for bringing energy and enthusiasm to a room full of delegates who were simultaneously amused by his humour and inspired by his story.”

Fair Farms Certified Growers, Sunripe, took out the Fair Farmer of the Year Award, while Shane Stirling from Aus-Qual and Rachel Mackenzie from Berries Australia both received a Fair Farms Recognition Award.

According to Growcom CEO, Rachel Chambers, given the current labour market, there has never been a better time to come together to discuss the state of workplace relations in Australian horticulture.

“Growers, retailers, auditors, politicians and peak bodies came together to try to work through various sticking points,” Ms Chambers said.

“As topics such as audit fees, red tape, consumer demands, global pressures, lack of labour and compounded compliance were discussed, it was important to acknowledge that although we may have come from various viewpoints on the topic, fundamentally there were two things we could all agree on: that Australia’s horticultural industry must have a reliable workforce and the reputation of the horticultural industry must be improved.

“As one grower at the conference said, it is a shame that growers who do everything right have to prove their behaviour with a certificate of audit. It’s an added burden and cost that we could all do without.

“But it’s an even greater shame that the few growers who don’t do things right, spoil the reputation of all those who do. These growers detract from our workforce and unfairly price their produce, it’s not a level playing field. These growers forced us into this space, and they need to be forced out. We need to reboot the reputation of horticulture.”

Vision for horticulture’s future

The 10-year roadmap for the Queensland fresh produce sector, Future Fields, has now been released. This collaborative project was led by Growcom on behalf of the Queensland fresh produce sector and supply chain and was proudly supported and funded by the Queensland Government. Click or scan the QR Code to download the final report.

Fair Farmer of the Year, Samara and Luke De Paoli from Sunripe. Golden boy Steven Bradbury (on right) with Sachin Ayachit (Fair Farms National Program Manager) and Rachel Chambers (Growcom CEO). Federal National Party Leader and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud MP, addresses the crowd at the Fair Farms Conference.
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Stay ahead of the waste levy and reduce your General Waste costs by using our new Produce Waste Recycling Service!

How does it work?

Organic waste Separate your food scraps from your general waste.

Organics bin

Place your organics waste in the specific Organics bin.

Collection Organics bin will be collected by scheduled frequency.

Compost Organic waste will be processed into high-quality compost.

and a happy New Year from everyone at

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