Fresh Source Winter 2024

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MD comment

It is with great pleasure that I announce the upcoming launch of a new price reporting app, which you can read more about on page 7.

The new Brisbane Markets Price Report app, developed and funded by the Queensland wholesaler representative organisation Brismark, has been able to take advantage of technological advancement to address concerns around pricing and transparency.

Until now, the commercial price reporting system has been based on discussion and observation, rather than sales data, while the new app uses data from purchases made through Brismark’s Credit Service to provide accurate insight into current market pricing.

Supermarkets in spotlight

It’s hard to ignore the many inquiries into the cost of living crisis and the big supermarket chains (see page 12 for more), and they have certainly received plenty of airplay in the news cycle.

For over 25 years, the big supermarkets have avoided the regulatory oversight of a mandatory Code of Conduct, while wholesalers have been bound by a punitive and mandatory code since 2007.

Combined, Australia’s five central markets are home to over 430 wholesalers who trade over $7 billion each year while Coles and Woolworths combined turnover for 2023 was almost $90 billion.

If multi-billion dollar companies are allowed to operate under a voluntary code of conduct and a sector a tenth of its size works under a mandatory code, how is an equal playing field ever to be achieved?

The federal government has just confirmed it will implement all of Dr Craig Emerson’s recommendations so, hopefully, at the end of the media hype and public scrutiny we will see a code that has real teeth.

Back in 2015, one of the Horticulture Code of Conduct’s review panellists indicated that “it was timely to look at the legislation since the dynamics of the sector had changed over the past 10 years, with large retail chains now involved in direct farm-gate purchasing of produce”.

Nothing has changed in the decade since.

Of central importance

Recent media and political conversations have highlighted ongoing misunderstandings and misconceptions about how

central markets operate and our contribution to not only Australia’s fresh produce supply chain but also to this nation’s economy as a whole.

This goes beyond the retail sector landscape, even though we have shown how vitally important independent retail supply chains are to the resilience of Australia’s food security.

It’s also the catering services, restaurants, cafes, hotels, pubs, clubs, care facilities, hospitals, cruise ships, armed forces: the list of buyers who purchase from our primary and secondary wholesalers is endless.

To assist in addressing these misconceptions, pages 13 to 22 provides an inside view into the role central markets play and the services offered to growers, wholesalers and buyers.

Celebrating 60 years

In 1958, the Queensland Government formed a small Committee to report on the conditions at the fruit and vegetable markets located in Brisbane’s CBD and make recommendations regarding the future operations and location of the markets.

During their investigations it was clear that the Municipal Market in Roma Street could not be used for more than another five years, so the only possible recommendation was made: a new market needed to be built in Brisbane (see more on page 9).

A number of sites were considered but only one had the required features. These included obvious close proximity to rail and road transport, a long street frontage and, most importantly, an area large enough to incorporate not just the 35 acres required for the original market buildings but also considerable space for the market to grow and expand. It appears the only thing they didn’t consider was flooding.

The foresight of our forebears has certainly paid off. Over the past 60 years this site has grown from a 50-hectare dairy farm to a bustling, 77-hectare industrial facility.

As the now owner of the Brisbane Markets site, BML is dedicated to ensuring this legacy continues for another 60 years and that the site continues to be developed and expanded to meet the needs of Queensland’s fresh produce supply chain.

23 Fresh Perspectives


PO Box 80, Brisbane Market, Rocklea, Queensland 4106



Editor: Seren Trump, Brisbane Markets Limited P 07 3915 4200 E

Donate Your Surplus Food To Feed Families In Need

With your help, each year, more than 516,000 kilograms of fresh food is collected by Foodbank Queensland at Brisbane Markets and distributed to people in need. That’s the equivalent of 930,000 meals provided to children and adults experiencing hunger.

Donating your surplus produce or produce otherwise destined for landfill helps feed vulnerable Queenslanders, positively impacts the environment, and saves money for your business.

• Save on your waste disposal costs

• Reduce the volume of waste going to landfill

• Provide food directly to people in need

• Simple pick up process

• Positive impact on staff morale

• Meet your businesses ESG requirements

• Ease of pallet transfer

Lewis lauded with FMA accolade

Susan Lewis has received the 2024 Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) Young Achievers Award in recognition of her dedication and contribution to the fresh produce industry.

The CEO of Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Murray Bros, Mrs Lewis has shown diligence and a willingness to learn in the 26 years since she began working at the Brisbane Markets, according to the Chair of Brismark, Gary Lower.

“Susan came to Murray Bros with no experience, but soon developed a passion for the industry,” Mr Lower said.

“Susan’s work ethic saw her stand out from other employees and as a result she worked her way through the company progressing from junior cashier to an administration position before being appointed Administration Manager, then General Manger and finally Chief Executive Officer in mid-2023. This has all been as a result of her hard work, skills, abilities and dedication to Murray Bros and the fresh produce industry.

“This award is worthy recognition for the work Susan has done through Brismark’s Junior Executive Committee, of which she has been a member for ten years, her support for Brismark in general, and her dedication to expanding her knowledge, both within Murray Bros and through wider industry leadership and further education opportunities,” Mr Lower said.

George Giameos, General Manager of the South Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, won this year’s FMA Meritorious Service Award.

The FMA awards were presented at the Hort Connections gala dinner and

Worthy winner: Susan Lewis receives the 2024 FMA Young Achievers Award from FMA Chair, Shane Shnitzler.

awards ceremony, where grower and Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Perfection Fresh, was awarded Seeka Marketer of the Year and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Grower CEO, Bree Watson, received the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award.

Held in Melbourne from 3 June to 5 June 2024, each year Hort Connections brings together growers, suppliers, and retailers from the horticulture sector.

This year, Brisbane Markets Limited and Brismark represented Brisbane Markets wholesalers at the 2024 Hort Connections Trade Show, alongside their central market and chamber colleagues from around Australia.

The trade show was joint sponsored by Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) and the Central Markets Association of Australia (CMAA), under the banner of Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets as a united leading representative body for fresh produce markets in the country. As a major sponsor of the event, FMA and CMAA highlighted their commitment to supporting the growth and development of the industry.

FMA Chair, Shane Schnitzler said, “By establishing a strong presence at the trade show, FMA can connect with growers, suppliers, retailers, and other industry professionals, to forge partnerships that can drive the future growth and prosperity of Australia’s central market system.”

Pricing clarity at your fingertips with new Brisbane Markets Price Report

Get ready for improved pricing transparency when the Brisbane Markets launches its new Price Report service!

The new app will allow the fresh produce industry in Queensland and growers sending their produce to the Brisbane Markets to gain clarity around pricing and level of trade that is sold through Queensland’s central market.

The mobile and web-based app has been developed and funded by the Queensland wholesaler representative organisation, Brismark, and will provide a verifiable Market Price Report for transactions that occur at the Brisbane Markets, addressing a longstanding, recognised industry need for better clarity of trade in the supply chain.

Brismark and Brisbane Markets Limited CEO, Andrew Young, said that the Price Report service was an industry-led initiative to help address concerns raised by grower groups, the federal government, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission around the transparency of fresh produce wholesale pricing at Australia’s central markets.

“Current price reports available are based on discussion and observations. This new report is directly based upon actual sales data,” Mr Young said.

“While the current reports have proven valuable in providing timely feedback on prices over many years, the lack of factually based verifiable market price information has resulted in criticism of the market wholesaling sector, which is what our wholesaler members have set out to address with the app.”

The Brisbane Markets Price Report uses data derived from weekday transactions through Brismark’s Credit Service, which acts as the financial clearinghouse for the Brisbane Markets.

“This pricing information will not reflect purchases made by the larger retail chains as they do not purchase through Brismark’s Credit Service,” Mr Young said.

“The Brisbane Markets Price Report provides easy access to wholesale produce prices in one location and is based on actual and verifiable transaction data.”

Smooth parking at South Gate West

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) has unveiled its newest parking facility, providing convenient parking for current tenants and accommodating the increasing demands and expansion of the South Gate West (SGW) precinct.

While summer storms and autumn rains did cause some construction delays, the final minor civil works and finishing touches of the landscaping were completed early in April in preparation for tenant access which commenced late-June 2024.

The new parking facility, which is known as CP2 South, features 300 open air parking spaces, street lamps and security barriers, as well as including new installations of underground services, such as stormwater, electrical and communications conduit that future proof this site to meet the operational requirements for future tenants.

The app will have a range of subscription options, allowing users to view the daily low, high, average, and most sales on wholesale produce prices. Users have access to up to six months of pricing data for over 150 produce lines and varieties sold by wholesalers at the Brisbane Markets. Customised subscription plans will also be available by negotiation.

“We believe that the app will be very useful for growers, buyers, and other businesses that operate across the fresh produce supply chain, providing them with better market price transparency from our wholesalers,” Mr Young said.

More information on the Brisbane Markets Price Report can be found at

Transparent pricing: Brisbane Markets is set to launch a new price reporting app.
New day dawns: Sunrise over the new South Gate West Car Park (CP2 South).


Fire detection project heats up

Work to install the new Brisbane Markets dry fire detection system is full steam ahead, with significant work going into the planning and preparation of the site-wide system.

Stage 1 focused on the Central Trading Area (CTA), given the Building C main fire panel is the central link point for communications with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES), along with the installation of fire detection cabling networks within individual buildings across this site.

Building works, testing and commissioning were completed on Building C in April and it was connected to QFES in June.

Meanwhile, construction is complete in Building B, and ongoing in Buildings A and D, with extensive preparation work completed, including cabling loops and FIP enclosures, and building applications approved by QFES and building certifiers.

These works will conclude Stage 1 and are expected to reach completion in late June 2024 with the CTA connected to QFES by mid-July.

During the preparation works, the fire cable loop was separated and extended, allowing for the expansion of each building’s fire network to allow for future Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) and tenant projects.

Due to the nature of the project, BML has several teams of

(pictured) installed at monitoring level.

technicians working on different stages simultaneously and preparation works are continuing in buildings across the Brisbane Markets site.

Scoping works are progressing in all buildings across Brisbane Markets, with each at varying stage of progress, from design refinement to nearing construction.

The new system was designed with flood mitigation at the fore, with all new FIPs installed above peak flood levels and controlled via removable mimic panels installed at monitoring level.

While the panels are designed to be removed ahead of any future flood event, the FIPs will remain unaffected ensuring the dry fire system maintains full functionality in the event of a future natural disaster.

The site-wide dry fire system is projected to be completed by early 2025.

Half year results announced by BML

In March, Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) announced its half-year financial results to 31 December 2023, achieving an operating profit before tax for the half-year of $7.74 million.

This operating profit excludes the valuation adjustment for the Brisbane Markets and the Perth Markets Group Limited contribution.

The statutory result of the group after income tax for the halfyear ended 31 December 2023 was a loss of $4.77 million.

The results reflect a reduction in the carrying value of the property of $14.75 million, with the fair value of BML’s properties recorded at $413 million at 31 December 2023.

Total Assets reduced by 0.18% since June 2023 to $501.9 million while Net Assets decreased by 4.211% to $238.9 million.

BML announced an interim dividend to be paid to shareholders for the half-year of 9.0 cents per share, unfranked.

Resilient protection: The new dry fire system includes new fire indicator panels, installed above peak flood levels, which are controlled by via removable mimic panels
Then: The Brisbane Market site in development in 1964. The buildings at the time of opening covered only 35 acres of the 50 hectare site.
Now: The Brisbane Markets Central Trading Area and surrounds as it is today.


Critical hub to aid disaster response

Work to demolish and rebuild Building H into an upgraded workshop, disaster management hub and critical spares storage facility is well underway, with the project on track to be completed in October 2024.

Demolition of the aging building was completed over the summer holiday period with sewerage and stormwater relocation works commencing in late January and completed in March. Bulk earth works were also complete during March, with over 1,600 m3 of fill removed as part of these works.

Steel work and concrete footings were installed in April and the Ground Level tilt slab was in place mid-May. By mid-June, the Level 1 tilt slab, concrete floor and columns and Level 2 tilt slab were also installed.

The new storage facility will increase flood resilience on site, providing secure storage above recent peak flood levels for high value critical parts and equipment, as well as a disaster control centre for BML staff members who remain on site to assist with the coordination of preparation and recovery works in the event of a future flood.

Upon completion, Building H will feature a high-level loading dock for equipment receivals; secure, racked storerooms for critical spare parts and staff work areas on the upper level, above flood height, and connected to the Multi-level Car Park to allow for access during flooding events. The ground level will continue to provide storage and work areas.

Infrastructure reaches new heights in flood mitigation

The first stage of a further project to raise critical infrastructure across the Brisbane Markets site was completed in March and the second stage is now well underway.

Stage 1 saw the installation of elevated structures for electrical control panels and distribution boards at across eight buildings, allowing main and tenancy distribution boards to be elevated above flood level.

The structures elevate critical components, providing flood immunity up to 9.5 m AHD to infrastructure that supports the sewerage network, reducing the time it takes to prepare for and recovery from a flood event.

The Covered Unloading Area (CUA) pump station control panels and generators were also raised as part of Stage 1, and new connections for power supply through main switch and distribution boards.

Stage 2 involves relocating building main distribution boards to raised

platforms, including stairs and walkway access. Designs for the building main distribution boards, access stairs and walkways for Buildings J, U and W were completed in January and the installation of the concrete footing, main distribution board, plant deck and walkway were completed in April and May 2024.

The upgrade of sewerage pump station control panels to a removable, plug and play system at Buildings J1, M1 and O is expected to commence in line with the raising of the building main distribution boards at Buildings U and W, expected to be complete in mid-June to facilitate power changeover from the old to the new distribution boards.

The project to raise essential services will continue progressively over future years, with these works complimenting BML’s earlier flood mitigation projects to raise all main distribution boards following the 2011 flood event.

Firm footings: During April, the steel work and concrete footings were installed.
Completely floored: The Level 1 concrete slab floor is put in place.
Sky high services: Platforms, walkways and access stairs are being installed in Brisbane Markets buildings to elevate critical infrastructure.

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Inquiries place spotlight on Grocery Code

You would have to be living under a rock to have missed the many inquiries and reviews currently underway that are looking into the cost of living crisis and the major supermarket chains.

One thing has been made very clear: the voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct that governs these major retailers should be made mandatory and include financial penalties for breaches.

This has been the clear recommendation of the three reports released so far this year, the Australian Council of Trade Unions recommendations from its Inquiry into Price Gouging and Unfair Pricing Practices chaired by Professor Allan Fels AO released in February; Dr Craig Emerson’s Independent Review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct for the Australian Government the Treasury released in June; and the results of the Australian Government’s Senate Select Committee on Supermarket Prices released in May.

Brisbane Markets Limited and Brismark CEO, Andrew Young, said the recommendations would give wholesalers a sense of deja vu, given they have been calling for a level playing field for over 15 years.

“By the time the Horticulture Code of Conduct came into effect in 2007 wholesalers had already spent years saying that if there was regulatory oversight of wholesalers in fresh produce there should also be regulatory oversight of major retailers who choose to deal directly with growers,” Mr Young said.

Of the three inquiries so far, only Dr Emerson’s has the specific job of advising on changes to the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct and his interim report included eight firm and three draft recommendations.

In his report, Dr Emerson’s said “A heavy imbalance in market power between suppliers and supermarkets in Australia’s heavily concentrated supermarket industry necessitates an enforceable code of conduct … The existing Food and Grocery Code of Conduct is not effective”.

Along with a mandatory, punitive code, Dr Emerson’s firm recommendations include greater emphasis on addressing fear of retribution amongst small suppliers, the monitoring of commercial buying decisions and incentives, further dispute resolution processes and minimum standards for supplier agreements..

Unlike Dr Emerson, the Fels Inquiry and the Senate Committee had a wider remit and recommended that price gouging should be made unlawful; a permanent commission should be established to examine and monitor competition and prices; and that Australian Competition and Consumer Commission should be given divestiture powers specific to the supermarket sector.


December 2003

February 2005

May 2007

July 2008

March 2012

Codes of Conduct timeline

Federal Government Joint Committee on Fair Market and Market Failure recommends a mandatory code for major supermarkets.

Buck Report, an independent review of the Retail Grocery Industry Code of Conduct, recommends a mandatory code for major supermarkets and fresh produce wholesalers.

The voluntary Retail Grocery Industry Code of Conduct is introduced for major supermarkets.

The mandatory Horticulture Code of Conduct (Horticulture Code) is introduced for fresh produce wholesalers.

ACCC Grocery Inquiry into the competitiveness of retail pricing recommends 13 amendments to Horticulture Code, including that it be expanded to include major retailers.

House of Representatives Select Committee Inquiry into the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Horticulture Code of Conduct) Bill 2011 recommends that the Bill not be passed.

February 2015 A voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct (Grocery Code) is introduced that was drafted by the major retailers.

April 2018

January 2021

August 2022

February 2024

May 2024

The mandatory Horticulture Code is updated to include financial penalties for breaches, binding horticulture produce agreements and an obligation on wholesalers to explain how price will be calculated.

The voluntary Grocery Code is updated to include improvements to the dispute resolution process following Professor Graeme Samuel’s 2018 Statutory Review finding that the existing provisions were ineffective and underutilised by suppliers.

The Horticulture Code guidance is updated to assist growers and wholesalers to better understand their rights and responsibilities.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions releases the recommendations from its Inquiry into Price Gouging and Unfair Pricing Practices chaired by Professor Allan Fels AO, including that the Grocery Code become mandatory.

The Australian Senate Select Committee on Supermarket Prices unanimously agreed that the Grocery Code should be made mandatory and include financial penalties.

June 2024

November 2024

February 2025

Dr Craig Emerson releases his Independent Review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct for the Australian Government the Treasury, saying that the current voluntary code was ineffectual and a mandatory code with financial penalties for breaches should be introduced. The Federal Government confirms its support of these changes. .

The final report from the Australian Senate Select Committee on Cost of Living is due on 15 November 2024.

The ACCC Price Inquiry into the supermarket sector was established in February 2024 to ensure Australians are paying a fair price for their everyday groceries.

Feature Welcome to the Brisbane Markets

Investing in our growing relationships

Brisbane Markets, Queensland’s heart of fresh produce, is a unique and vibrant industrial facility providing a centralised location for Australia’s growers to send their fresh produce.

Brisbane Markets’ wholesalers then trade with hundreds of buyers with diverse requirements so the fresh produce can be sold fresh, processed or cooked for consumers across Queensland, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales.

Read on to find out all about Brisbane Markets and why so many Australian growers are confident in dealing with our wholesalers, developing strong, long-term and trusted relationships.

What is Brisbane Markets?

As Queensland’s only central fruit and vegetable market, the Brisbane Markets is the state’s most important centre for the marketing and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables, located just 11 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD.

Home to over 50 wholesalers who receive fresh produce and flowers from over 7,000 growers and trade five days a week to more than 800 registered buyers, Brisbane Markets records an annual trade in excess of 700 million kilograms of produce valued at more than $2 billion.

As a major economic and employment hub, there are more than 170 businesses located at the Brisbane Markets, with over 4,500 people working or doing business at the site each day.

What are Australia’s central markets?

Central markets have played a key role in the supply marketing and distribution of fresh produce in Australia for over 200 years.

As each capital city was established, so too was a wholesale fruit and vegetable market to service fruit carts and shop fronts in the surrounding communities. In Brisbane, this first occurred in 1868 - 60 years after the first central market was established in Sydney.

Since then, central markets have played an essential role in the national horticulture supply chain, ensuring produce gets from growers to local fruit and veg shops, restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, export operators and other food service providers in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Central markets act as a one-stop shop for all lines of fresh fruit and vegetables, offering a large customer base in one location, an orderly and open trading system, and providing access to credit services, marketing, warehousing, cold rooms, unloading facilities and quality assurance programs.

In Australia, all central markets have a market landlord and an organisation representing the interests of the wholesalers operating in that market.

At Brisbane Markets, these are Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) and Brismark respectively and, while they are very separate organisations, they share a Chief Executive Officer in Andrew Young.

“Central market wholesalers are in a unique position to receive all varieties and grades of produce from growers and find an appropriate buyer,” Mr Young said.

“Without central markets, growers and retailers alike would be spending all their time on the phone managing sales and logistics, rather than growing and selling the fresh produce needed to keep Australian consumers fed and healthy.”

All wholesaler organisations are a member of industry body Fresh Markets Australia, while all market landlords are members of the Central Markets Association of Australia.

Every year, they come together as Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets

What 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 Brisbane Markets.

Providing industry representation and advocating for its members on industry-related issues, Brismark also provides a range of services including training, financial, marketing and other commercial services to wholesalers and their associated businesses.

Brismark’s Credit Service facility acts as a clearing house for wholesalers, buyers and other businesses that operate within the Brisbane Markets, 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, Brisbane Markets, 385 Sherwood Road, Rocklea QLD 4106

Post: PO Box 70, Brisbane Market, QLD 4106

(AFPM) to sponsor the Hort Connections trade show and increase awareness of the role of central markets. AFPM also runs the A better choice! program, aimed at increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables supplied through the central market supply chain via more than 550 independent fruit and vegetable retailers across Australia.

What is Brisbane Markets Limited?

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) has been the owner of the Brisbane Markets site since 2002 and is responsible for its ongoing management and development.

BML’s mission is to provide infrastructure and services to facilitate the marketing and distribution of fresh produce, flowers and other ancillary products.

Brisbane Markets occupies 77 hectares of land at Rocklea. As the proprietor of the site, BML has over 250 leases in place including selling floors, industrial warehousing, retail stores and commercial offices.

Contact Brisbane Markets Limited

To contact Brisbane Markets Limited, you can visit for more information, or:

Phone: 07 3915 4200


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

Post: PO Box 80, Brisbane Market, QLD 4106

Andrew Young, Managing Director and CEO of BML and CEO of Brismark.

Meet the Brisbane Markets wholesalers

There are 47 fruit and vegetable wholesalers who operate in the Brisbane Markets at Rocklea, and who make up Brismark’s membership base.

Brisbane Markets wholesalers form a vital link in the fresh produce supply chain, connecting thousands of Australian growers with commercial buyers including independent retailers, secondary wholesalers, provedores and the hospitality and food services industry.

Brismark members are committed to maintaining strong business relationships with growers, based on communication and integrity and Brisbane Markets, as an industry body, actively maintains relationships with grower representative organisations.

Wholesalers at the Brisbane Markets play a significant role in determining the price paid by consumers for fresh produce. Each wholesaler is an independent business competing for the same trade in one location, each trying to get the best price for the produce they sell and ensuring that prices are based on supply and demand.

Meet the Brisbane Markets buyers

The Brisbane Markets provides a fair and equitable place to trade, where buyers can source a large range of fresh, quality produce in one central location.

Brisbane Markets wholesalers trade the more than 700 million kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables per year that they receive from thousands of Australian growers to a range of buyers, all with specific and differing needs. Buyers range from secondary wholesalers, provedores, food processors, retailers, independent supermarkets, cruise ships, hospitals, aged care facilities, the armed services, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and more.

Having a range of buyers on hand every day provides growers with the opportunity to sell their entire crop, not just the sizes and quality selected by the major supermarket chains.

What is A better choice!?

The ‘A better choice!’ retailer program is the first national initiative designed to educate consumers about the quality, service and freshness of produce at their local fruit and vegetable shop.

The program supports more than 700 fruit and veg business owners across Australia and providing consumers with an opportunity to come together to help create a positive future for business owners, produce wholesalers and local growers who supply them.

Brisbane Markets is a proud supporter of A better choice!, with Brismark providing marketing support to over 100 local, independent fruit and veg shops throughout central and southern Queensland.

Ten tips for working with a wholesaler


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 for more information.

2 Arrange a visit to the Brisbane Markets with your wholesaler. Try to come in-season, 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/transporters 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.

Brisbane Markets Wholesalers

Company Name Contacts

Alfred E Chave Pty Ltd

Arcella Banana Company

Armstrong Bros Fruit & Veg Merchants

Australian Ethical Growers

BG Brisbane

Carter and Spencer

Central Park Produce

Costa Group

Cumming Produce Centre

Don Alroe & Sons

Favco Queensland Pty Ltd

Franklin Bros

Gibb Bros

GNL Produce

Gollagher Bros Pty Ltd

H E Heather & Co Pty Ltd

Paul Joseph 0419 745 719 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

Jonathon Goody 0417 713 235 07 3193 5240

Allan DeLacey 07 3379 0333

Nick Marentis 0438 270 672 07 3379 3409

Paul Alroe 0412 755 665 07 3379 3554

Mark Clarke 0407 781 792 07 3717 1500

Robert Hinrichsen 0412 700 570 07 3379 5944

Nicholas Gibb 0419 175 878 07 3379 9999

Jason Lower 0439 163 267 07 3278 1275

Andrew Drummond 0418 116 994 07 3278 3711

Troy Beaton 0419 662 293 07 3278 2666

Ireland 53 Grant Southen 0478 947 268 07 3379 1131

J Allen Pty Ltd

J E Tipper Pty Ltd

J H Leavy & Co

John Potter Pty Ltd

King Pak Australia

KLS Farm Produce

Lavender & Sons

Lind & Sons Pty Ltd

M & D Vegetable Specialists Pty Ltd

Marendy & Sons Produce

Market Egg Supplies

Marland Mushrooms

Murray Bros

O'Toole Produce

Perfection Fresh Australia Pty Ltd

Pershouse Produce

Priority Produce

R W Pascoe

Rising Sun Produce

Romeo's Marketing (QLD)

Ross & Co

Shamrock Marketing

So Crisp

Stanton & Son

Sutton Fresh Direct

Top Class Fruit Supply

United Lettuce

United Organics

Viva Produce

Wholesale Produce Australia

Gary Lower 0418 709 291 07 3379 8644

Steve Barnes 0435 054 528 07 3379 1041

Jacob Darling 07 3379 4659

Mark Murphy 0418 798 462 07 3278 0600

Jack George 0408 459 867 07 3717 1400

Steven Wright 0477 887 401

Gary Lavender 0412 192 370 07 3278 5082

Fraser Lind 0418 714 528 07 3379 7999

Mark Moore 0418 784 249 07 3379 5500

Mary Marendy 07 3379 5633

Peter Marinos 0413 639 171

Troy Marland 0439 968 878 07 3278 1112

Stephen Edwards 0438 949 911 07 3875 8100

Paul O'Toole 0429 100 500 07 3278 1700

Jane Rowles 0400 877 020 07 3310 3900

Peter Kedwell 0419 673 344 07 3379 3034

Steven Rosten 0413 199 904 07 3915 4140

Noel Greenhalgh 0417 744 935 07 3379 2686

Christian Hoath 0427 747 464 07 3278 0555

Debbie Trimboli 0412 967 107 07 3278 5455

Mark Garratt 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

Paul Veivers 0418 452 594 07 3379 7309

Douglas Rylance 0418 748 096 07 3278 1724

Credit Service and Bad Debt Reserve

When a grower deals with one of Brismark’s wholesaler members, they know they are getting an extra layer of protection.

With a Credit Service to streamline payment, a debt recovery service, and a Bad Debt Reserve providing protection against buyer defaults, Brismark helps wholesalers ensure timely payments to their growers.

Brismark’s wholesaler members transact through the Brismark Credit Service, a clearing house for Brisbane Markets businesses, a service it has offered for more than 40 years.

The Credit Service tracks and processes transactions, providing buyers with consolidated statements for electronic payment and follow up services to ensure timely remittance.

Debt Recovery Solutions is also available to all creditors for debt incurred both inside and outside the Brisbane Markets, beyond fresh produce-related debt.

Debt Recovery Solutions uses a low-cost commission-based

fee-for-service structure, and only charges for successful debt collection.

As a licenced commercial collection agency, Debt Recovery Solutions provides a practical, expert solution while using unique market insights to help recover debts without breaking the bank.

There is even a Bad Debt Reserve in place to protect wholesalers, ensuring they’re in a position to make timely payments to their growers if a buyer reneges on their commitments.

Quality Assurance and Business Services

Wholesalers are further supported by Brismark with advice on established Quality Assurance procedures and manuals, customised Work Health and Safety manuals, and specialised Human Resources and Industrial Relations services.

This ensures Brisbane Markets wholesalers are delivering produce to the highest standard, protecting their future business and reputation, as well as the reputation of their growers’ produce lines.

They, and their growers, also have access to FreshTest, the largest and most comprehensive microbial produce testing program in Australian Horticulture. The tests are used for verification of food safety and Quality Assurance systems, demonstrating that their growers’ on-farm practices and produce meet Australian food safety standards.

You can read more about FreshTest and Quality Assurance at Brisbane Markets on pages 20 and 21.

Horticulture Code of Conduct

All Brismark wholesaler members are regulated through the Horticulture Code of Conduct, which requires them to have a Terms of Trade document, standardising the indicative terms on which they intend to trade with a grower. They are also required to have an individual Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA) in place with each of their growers.

Among other processes, the Merchant HPA clearly explains how prices will be calculated, allowing for clarity and transparency in all trade. It also provides fair and equitable dispute resolution procedures, so that in the unlikely event that there are difficulties in trade dealings, operational issues, or markets-related grievances, they have further support.

To assist in resolving disputes, for over 15 years growers have also been able to call Brismark’s free Dispute Resolution Hotline to access an established, confidential, dispute resolution process, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1800 631 002.

The Brisbane Markets Price Report is based on actual weekday wholesale fresh produce trading transactions recorded through the Brismark Credit Service, and will provide a veriable and transparent source of data for growers, buyers, and industry. Available as both a phone and web application, the Report will provide easy access to low, average, high, and most sales prices at the Brisbane Markets through a range of competitive subscription options.

Keeping testing fresh

For over 20 years, FreshTest has provided wholesalers in the Brisbane Markets and growers an extensive, cost-effective, fresh produce testing program.

With rising consumer and regulatory demand for assurance that fresh produce is safe and meets industry standards, FreshTest provides chemical, heavy metal, microbial, water and specialised testing for verification of food safety standards and good agricultural practice, supporting those involved along the fresh produce supply chain.

Ann Despott from GNL Produce has been sending produce through Brismark for FreshTest testing for over a decade, due to the convenience of the service and the experience of the team.

“They’re just great to deal with. If I have any questions, they’re there with feedback and advice. It’s fast, reliable, and done!” she said.

Even the growers that supply to GNL Produce use FreshTest for their produce testing.

“If our growers have audits coming up, they send their produce samples to us, and we lodge them with FreshTest here at Brisbane Markets, because it’s just fast and efficient that way,” Ms Despott said.

With 4,709 tests conducted in Queensland last financial year and thousands more nationally, FreshTest is the largest independently operated testing service run in Australia for industry, by industry. The tests are confidential and are used for verification for food safety and quality assurance systems.

Brismark QA Coordinator, Amanda Green, handles all the produce submitted daily for testing in Queensland and says that many growers and Brisbane Markets wholesalers have used FreshTest for years.

“Fresh Markets Australia has negotiated significant price reductions with National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratories throughout Australia and arranged substantial reductions in administration fees through bulk testing,” Mrs Green said.

“These savings are passed on to Brismark’s FreshTest customers. We have dedicated and experienced staff who know the industry and provide personalised service, along with a simple, on site submission process.

Request a FreshTest

“Results are turned around quickly, are easy to read, and can be used for verification for food safety and quality assurance systems,” Mrs Green said.

For Brismark wholesaler members, FreshTest can be accessed and coordinated directly in the Brisbane Markets.

“The whole process is constantly updated to keep it streamlined, with registered users now able to submit their own test requests via the FreshTest app, so then all they need to do is drop off the produce to be tested,” Mrs Green said.

FreshTest is available to all growers directly, but they can have tests conveniently processed through Brismark wholesaler members at an affordable price.

To request a test, visit, complete the test request form, and send it to the day before testing is required. Produce samples can be dropped off before 8am at Brismark’s Credit Service, conveniently located in the Fresh Centre at the Brisbane Markets. The samples are then prepared for collection by a NATA accredited laboratory. Once testing is complete, the results and certificates are available in the FreshTest app and to the business who ordered the test.

For more information about Brismark’s FreshTest service, please visit, phone 07 3915 4222, or email

Testing times: Brismark’s QA Coordinator, Amanda Green.

Investing in safety and quality

An increasingly crucial aspect of fresh produce trading at the Brisbane Markets is having Quality Assurance (QA) processes in place to meet buyers’ requirements and protect wholesalers against the risk of costly produce recalls.

Holly Wraight, who was brought in by Brisbane Markets wholesaler and Brismark Member John Potter two years ago to manage their QA processes, says there is a lot involved for wholesalers to ensure safe, quality produce for customers.

“In addition to employing a QA Manager, there are also auditing processes and costs including certifications like Freshcare and HARPS, additional equipment such as mass weights, calibrating cold rooms and scales, and adding hand washing stations to fulfill code requirements,” Ms Wraight said.

The Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme, commonly referred to as HARPS, is a major industry initiative used by some wholesalers that aligns the food safety requirements of various retailers. Meanwhile, Freshcare is the fresh produce industry’s own Quality Assurance program, with versions for both on-farm and supply chain certification, that fulfills both domestic and international market requirements.

While the time and costs of these auditing and certification procedures add up, fortunately, there are savings for wholesalers by working with Brismark.

“We engaged with Brismark to help us with our QA Manual, which saved us a month of time and allowed John Potter to concentrate on ensuring their processes were correct and reflected their business activities,” Ms Wraight said.

Brismark has developed various levels of QA Manuals for to assist its members, depending on the certification required by each wholesaler, such as Freshcare, Safe Quality Food (SQF), HARPS, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). Brismark also provides advisory services and food safety training to support its members and their associated businesses with their QA requirements.

Even with those savings, QA can be quite an expensive investment for businesses, both in set up and ongoing management.

“I think the value of QA is sometimes overlooked in some industries due to the rising costs involved in having an effective system,” Ms Wraight said.

The reality is that without effective QA, businesses are limited


Brismark offers an online produce matching tool to assist growers and buyers to find the right wholesaler for different produce line. Visit to start searching now.

in where their produce can be sold. Many major supermarkets, retailers, restaurants, and food processors require suppliers to have an effective QA system coupled with relevant certification. With 27 years of experience in QA, Ms Wraight has been working on the ground during major recalls, including the rockmelon and strawberry recalls of 2018, so she is well aware of losses involved with insufficient QA.

Ms Wraight says John Potter sees the importance of an evolving QA system that works to increase the quality and safety of fresh produce over time.

“By having a requirement for produce testing, the industry is finding new ways that microbials can get passed into the produce and spread, and we are learning how to prevent this at the farm, wholesale and store level,” Ms Wraight said.

“QA is evolving in a positive direction. Our growers are developing safer, better growing techniques and a safer product for the end consumer.”

Quality at work: QA specialist, Holly Wraight.

Visiting the Brisbane Markets

Not only is a visit to the Brisbane Markets informative, it is also vitally important for growers as it provides a better understanding of how the market operates and the level of investment that goes into marketing their fresh produce.

For many growers, visiting the Brisbane Markets is a real eyeopener. The sights, the sounds, the smells all combine to create an experience like no other.

Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) and Brismark have always encouraged growers to take the opportunity to visit Brisbane Markets and their wholesalers, in a way that promotes visitor safety and maintains site security.

Visiting Brisbane Markets when their produce is in season gives growers a unique opportunity to compare their competitors’ produce to their own and also see the array of packaging available.

Just like growers need to restrict on-farm visitors, BML also has a responsibility to protect the safety, security and biosecurity of the businesses on site, their employees, markets users and, by extension, Australian consumers. This means that all visitors must be registered by a Brisbane Markets business prior to arrival on site.

“Safety is paramount at Brisbane Markets, given the industrial nature of the facility and the high volume of heavy vehicles, forklifts and other vehicles operating in close proximity to

pedestrians,” BML and Brismark CEO, Andrew Young, said.

“As owner of the Brisbane Markets site, BML actively complies with advice and warnings issued by government safety regulators in taking decisions to implement safety regulations, including restricting access to authorised people only.

“We must adhere to these guidelines to ensure the well-being of all individuals on site, and to reduce the legal and financial risks which can result.”

The Brisbane Markets is home to 48 fresh produce wholesalers, each with a different approach to their business and grower relationships.

“To organise a visit to the Brisbane Markets, growers should first approach their wholesaler to coordinate their tour and register their attendance with BML,” Mr Young said.

“By visiting their wholesalers, growers can gain an understanding of how the site operates as a whole, but also gain an inside look into their wholesaler’s unique business operations.”

Another option available to larger grower groups is to attend a tour coordinated by BML, such as those offered during Hort Connections or arranged through Queensland’s grower representative organisations. These tours provide an overview of the history and operations of the Brisbane Markets as a whole.

On the horizon for horticulture

Two potential scenarios loom large on the horizon for horticulture, with high temperatures, lower winter rainfall and more chaotic weather systems tipped to continue to impact farm incomes over the next five years.

This is according to the latest Agriculture Commodities Report (March Quarter 2024), the Report produced by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) to review the five-year outlook for all agricultural commodities.

According to the Report, more seasonable conditions are expected to result in increases in production volumes while global and domestic spending remain subdued.

Despite this, continued increases in demand for Australiangrown produce is expected to support both domestic and international growth with higher domestic production volumes more than offsetting any falls in price.

The value of horticulture production is expected to break records over the next two years, increasing to $17.2 billion for 2024 and $17.8 billion in 2025.

Weather instability limits predictions

Currently, all is calm on the vegetable front. Pleasant late autumn growing conditions, particularly in the Lockyer Valley, bode well for Queensland’s winter vegetable season. However, Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Todd Purdey from Shamrock Marketing, points out that climate instability is making predicting the weather increasingly difficult.

“Weather is unpredictable at the best of times and has a dramatic impact on prices and vegetable production,” Mr Purdey said.

“We can say what we want about predictions, but with the weather being so inconsistent it is virtually impossible to make any predictions about what the markets will look like over the next few years.”

It seems that the folk at ABARES agree with Mr Purdey’s assessment. Because forecasts are so reliant on seasonal conditions, this year ABARES used two scenarios on which to base its forecast, a baseline and an alternative scenario. While the baseline represents ABARES’ central expectations, the alternative scenario covers downside risks to the global

economy, wetter seasonal conditions in Australia, and higher global prices for most commodities.

Under the baseline scenario, the Report projects that by 2028/29 horticulture production values will rise to $18.3 million, “driven by increased production volumes, particularly for fruit and nuts due to maturation of plantings in previous years, assumed high water availability in most years and strong domestic and world demand”.

However, if conditions are wetter than expected, under the alternative scenario production values could be lower, ranging between $17.1 and $17.4 billion because while wetter conditions would support higher water availability and production volumes, these increases would result in “a large increase in fruit and vegetable supply to the domestic market, putting downward pressure on prices”.

“In addition, growth in consumer spending is assumed to be weaker in this scenario due to lower income growth and higher inflation, putting further downwards pressure on prices and outweighing the effect of higher production on overall value,” the Report said.

Rising cost of doing business

While the cost of inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals are not at the highs witnessed over the past few years, they are still sitting above long-term averages and additional costs such as labour, fuel and freight are still elevated and are only tipped to reduce slightly in 2025.

“The cost of growing and doing businesses is through the roof for everyone. I definitely see inflationary costs being a contributing factor which may lead to less volume in vegetable production,” Mr Purdey said.

“Almost all growers I talk to are growing less or dropping lines because of the economic forces that have come about in the last two years. There’s a lot of careful planning and thought process that goes into growing the crops, because growers are trying to grow produce that is less labour intensive.”

Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Stephen Barnes of J.E. Tipper said growers needed to be vigilant about costs and have difficult conversations with their agents around costs and pricing.

“Costs have gone up dramatically, growers need to be aware of market dynamics and have transparent communication with their wholesaler around their cost of production,” Mr Barnes said.

By being realistic about a crop and working with wholesalers to find the right buyer, growers and their traders can find the ‘sweet spot’ in pricing, according to Mr Barnes.

“There needs to be a closer relationship between the central market system and the growers so they understand what market forces mean to their business,” he said.

“Having heaps of fruit selling for single digits means that I’m losing money. Having hardly any fruit and big digits, means everyone is chasing supply and I’m not making any money because I’m having to pay extra to get the product.

“If my growers and I can work together to get more fruit in that sweet zone and an average price where we can all live sensibly, then that will be a good result. But we need to be more transparent, open and honest with each other because I can’t survive without my grower.

“As an industry, we need to be a lot more pragmatic about when we go hard at a commodity. We need to know why we are increasing planting and who the consumer is,” Mr Barnes said.

Funds see future in farming

Despite these challenges, benefits are being seen in businesses that have the luxury of the economies of scale and the Australian horticulture industry is clearly seen as a solid investment on a domestic and international stage.

In recent years, Australian horticultural land has been in high demand from international investors, such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan who, in 2023, became majority owners

Time to brag about the humble spud

Potatoes were a real winner in the year ended 30 June 2023, according to the Horticulture Statistics Handbook. While the national potato harvest of 1.463 million tonnes was up by less than 1% on the previous year, its farmgate value swelled by $203.3 million, representing a 24.5% increase.

“Over recent years, we have seen extreme weather including heat and rain causing a lower potato yield, resulting in high premiums for those that are able to produce. Potato crop failures elsewhere in the world also played into our hands, with increased international demand driving prices up,” Shamrock Marketing’s Todd Purdey said.

of both Mitolo Family Farms and Montague Fresh and the consortium headed by US agribusiness private equity giant Paine Schwartz Partners who has invested heavily in the Costa Group.

Domestic investors are also seeing the benefit of buying up horticultural land, with Qantas Super buying up 5,000 ha of underutilised agricultural land in Victoria and NSW and Centuria Agriculture Fund is proving to have an appetite for protected cropping,

“Protected cropping can grow a good product and protect from the vagaries of the weather but it’s also expensive so is often limited to larger growers with investment money behind them,” Mr Purdey said.

“The capital investment farms definitely seem keener to work for a lower margin making it difficult for the little guys to compete. However, small operations have the benefit of being able to make quick decisions when needed and be very frugal to keep costs under control.”

According to Mr Barnes, there are still opportunities available for smaller, hands-on growers who were willing to pay attention to detail.

“In Australia, we’re in the part of the cycle now where investment firms are paying big money for land with water. I can’t blame family growers for taking the money and living by the beach. But the cycle will swing back again,” Mr Barnes said.

“You cannot run a farm from an Excel spreadsheet. It’s so easy to get the formula wrong and you have to be out on the farm to notice.

“A good family grower with the right attitude has an amazing opportunity but the reality is you’ve got to love the ground you’re working with. The best data a grower can gather is by walking the orchard,” Mr Barnes said.

Reflecting on past performance

Horticulture production volumes dropped and production values rose in a year where weather played the greatest role in determining success.

This is according to the latest Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook, developed by Freshlogic on behalf of Hort Innovation, which shows the results for the year ending 30 June 2023 and includes information on 75 different horticulture categories across fruit, vegetables, nuts, and greenlife.

Overall, in 2022/23 the total production volume of all Australian horticulture dropped to 6,453,481 tonnes, a decrease of -2.6%, while its total value increased by $434.3 million (2.8%) to $16.3 billion. The rising value was driven by significant value increases in the fruit and vegetable categories – which increased 12.6% and 5.4% respectively.

Across the year, Queensland was Australia’s top fruit producer, contributing 33% of all fruit supply ahead of Victoria (26%) and New South Wales (21%). Queensland took out third place for vegetable production and was responsible for 19% of all supply behind Victoria (23%) and South Australia (21%).

Overall domestic market volume demand was fuelled by the highest population growth (1.9%) since 2009. The wholesale value per kg of fresh fruit and vegetables supplied to local market increased by 8% to $3.15 per kg driven largely by fruit.

COVID climate

Brisbane Markets wholesaler and exporter, J.E. Tipper, specialises in tropical fruit and the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Barnes, said that the results reflect the impact of the global health pandemic on the horticulture industry.

Because the current Handbook shows the results for the year that followed the opening of domestic and international borders, the stagnation of domestic statistics reflects the comparison with the relative highs experienced during pandemic while export statistics reflect the lows the pandemic brought and ongoing supply chain challenges.

“The reality is that three years of COVID were exceptionally kind to the fresh produce industry,” Mr Barnes said.

“While exports were challenging, dynamics around domestic demand changed dramatically and supply chain issues resulted in a real resurgence for independent fruit and vegetable retailers, after ten years of steady decline.

“Independent retailers showed they had the flexibility and the ability to innovate, pivot rapidly and provide consumers with confidence that they could supply the products they wanted in an environment that was healthy and safe.”

Fruit at fore

According to the Handbook, fruit production conditions delivered good product quality, which enabled success with new fruit varieties and export market growth. This, combined with steady domestic market demand, increased the total fruit value.

Over the 2022/23 financial year, 2,652,061 tonnes of fruit was produced, up 0.48%, with its value rising 12.61% to $6.32 billion.

Growing farmgate production value for fruit value was driven by large increases in production values for avocados (increasing $196.9 m), table grapes (increasing $196.4 m),

bananas (increasing $81.7 m), apples (increasing $78.4 m) and cherries (increasing $36.1M).

Mr Barnes has an interest in Queensland-grown red papaya and yellow pawpaw, which are strategically placed to increase consumer penetration.

Production of pawpaw and papaya increased by 12% in 2022/23, with 21,760 tonnes produced compared to 19,369 t the previous year. Production value also increased by 10% to $39 million.

According to Harvest to Home, currently just over 10% of households buy around 5.5 kg of papaya or pawpaw each year, compared with bananas where over 20 kg a year is purchased by 90% of households.

“Because there is such room for growth in tropical fruits domestically, I don’t need to chase the export bubble,” Mr Barnes said.

“The question I need to ask as a marketer of this fruit is how do I make papaya the next mango? Because if you go to South America, the penetration is more like 85% of households.

“Because of the way papaya is grown, we have the ability to increase production fairly quickly and dramatically if the demand is there. We could grow to service 50% penetration within six months. The ability to produce enough is there, the versatility of the product is there, it is getting the opportunity to get the product in front of the consumer that is the hardest.”

According to Mr Barnes, there are a few key ingredients that come into play when promoting new varieties or increasing consumption of existing lines.

“First, getting the space on the shelf is a challenge, because that real estate is expensive and retailers want a return on their investment,” he said.

“Then, getting a consistent product on that shelf as many weeks of the year as possible, so that customers can become repeat buyers.

Stephen Barnes, J.E. Tipper.

“You also need to educate consumers on the versatility of the product and what you can do with it. You have to constantly be in a conversation about how you can add value to the produce.”

Veggie volumes

Vegetable production was disrupted by adverse weather, that caused flooding and hail damage in southern states. The impact reduced supply of most vegetables and was apparent in volume reductions for the large processing categories.

Over the 2022/23 financial year, vegetable production dropped 3.24% to 3,585,678 tonnes, with production value increasing 5.42% to $5.83 billion. 2022/23 the lowest year for vegetable production volume in six years.

Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Shamrock Marketing, specialises in vegetables, and the company’s Managing Director, Todd Purdey, isn’t surprised by the reduced volume and modest price increase.

“The selling price has been way too low in some vegetable seasons and in many cases lower than the cost of production resulting in planting cutbacks for the following seasons. Working with growers through hard financial seasons is part of the industry, we just have to hope we have more good season than bad ones,” Mr Purdey said.

According to Mr Purdey, tomatoes are often seen as a barometer for other vegetables, and this has certainly been reflected in the 2022/23 statistics.

The production of tomatoes dropped significantly in 2022/23, with only 321,736 tonnes produced compared to 441,174 tonnes the previous year, down 27%. The value drop was less extreme, but tomatoes still dropped by 12% in production value to $571 million.

“Tomatoes are a high labour cost product to produce and are subject to the weather which makes it difficult to forecast volumes. If the price of tomato is up then most other vegetables will be up too,” Mr Purdey said.

The variety of tomatoes available is steadily increasing, although Gourmet and Roma varieties remain the biggest sellers, according to Mr Purdey.

“Glasshouse growers are investing in increasingly higher production volumes of new lines of red, yellow and brown varieties, combine that with cherry and grape truss varieties and the tomato pie is now much more diverse and gives the consumer much more to choose from,” Mr Purdey said.

Exploring export

In the 2022/23 year, total fresh horticultural exports were valued at $2.54 billion with volume dropping across both fruits (0.8% to 420,966 tonnes) and vegetables (11.51% to 184,038 tonnes). Prices rose by 6.34% bringing the value of exported fruit to $1.31 billion, while vegetables received slightly less than the previous ($252 million).

The big winners in fruit export value were table grapes ($557.3 m), oranges ($246.4 m), and mandarins ($184.6 m).

The staples continue to dominate vegetable lines with carrots topping the list ($82.5 m) followed by onions ($39.2 m) and potatoes ($39.2 m).

Mr Barnes said that export issues that began in COVID are continuing to play out across the supply chain.

“During COVID, the costs and availability of transport in both sea and airfreight being exceptionally challenging. If you asked

any true exporter about their COVID experience, they’d read you a horror story of delays, fines and issues. And no market was exempt,” Mr Barnes said.

“Even if you could afford the freight component, you struggled to get the price that warranted the cost of freight. Suddenly, produce destined for export was very much on the domestic market and it has continued to be affected by weather events.

“This year especially quality, export, and demand have all been difficult, and then when you hit difficulties in one of your major markets your only alternative is to come back into domestic sales, either through the central system or with retail partners.”


Two reports are released at the start of each year that provide insight into the state of Australia’s horticulture industry. The Horticulture Statistics Handbook, released by Hort Innovation in February, looks back on the recorded value and volume of production for the previous year, while the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Agriculture Commodities Report released in March provides forecasts for the short and medium term.

Todd Purdey, Shamrock Marketing.



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Collaboration enables research to thrive at Brisbane Markets

At Brisbane Markets, early mornings are a bustling hive of forklifts, buyers and salespeople, trading and transporting fresh produce to consumers across the state and beyond.

But when the industrial hustle and bustle dies down, a quieter component of the community gets to work at Queensland’s heart of fresh produce.

In the offices and meeting rooms dotted around the Brisbane Market site, industry organisations and research institutes are hard at work collaborating, lobbying and researching to improve Australian horticulture.

One of these important projects is being led by Brisbane Markets tenant, the University of New England’s (UNE) Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC), where Senior Researcher Craig Shephard and his team have been mapping Australia’s horticulture industry.

Funding supercharge

In 2017, the AARSC first released the original Australian Tree Crop Map (ATCM), documenting the location and size of Australia’s mango, avocado and macadamia tree plantings.

At the request of industry organisations, the second stage of the project provides a greater level of detail and was expanded to include citrus, olive and banana plantings and was released in 2022.

“The success of the map has been fantastic and it has been so well received by industry. Once they could see the benefit in action, other horticultural grower organisations were keen to get involved,” Mr Shephard said.

Under a new project together with four industry bodies, including avocado, banana, citrus and macadamia, AARSC will support development of new ‘industry-only’ maps. The new maps will include additional information at block-level, as a highvalue data collection, collation, analysis and presentation tool.

The project is led by AARSC in partnership with the Future Food Systems CRC and is delivered through Hort Innovation.

Horticulture peak industry bodies and fellow Brisbane Markets tenants Avocados Australia and Australian Banana Growers’ Council, along with Citrus Australia and Australian Macadamia Society, are all partnering in this mapping research.

AARSC’s core products are the baseline maps which show the location and extent of Australia’s tree crops and protected cropping infrastructure. Alongside the development of the ATCM, in 2022 AARSC finalised the first national map of Protected Cropping Systems (PCS) in Australia and the team have also set their sights internationally, mapping macadamia and pecan orchards in South Africa.

“The PCS map is the first baseline map completed for the protected cropping industry in Australia and plots all of Australia’s commercial glasshouses, polyhouses, polytunnels, shade houses, and permanent netting structures larger than 2,000 m²,” Mr Shephard said.

“The PCS map showed the industry was actually 30% larger than originally thought. It’s a common outcome AARSC have seen across many industries, without a map they really don’t have an accurate account of total and distribution of production area.”

While the first release ‘base’ maps are available to the public, the supercharged maps will be industry only.

“We take privacy concerns seriously so there is no commercial or personal information attached to those public base maps,”

Mr Shephard said.

“In this next phase of the research, we will be making a significant expansion to the data and insights available about avocado, banana, citrus and macadamia crops in Australia. However, unlike the publicly available ATCM dashboard, this higher-level information will only be accessible by the respective industry bodies to ensure grower privacy is protected.”

Problem solving

The maps are solving a real world problem, based on the location and extent of crops.

“Industry organisations typically know where their growers live and that’s not necessarily where the orchards or the greenhouses are located,” Mr Shephard said.

“It’s a common challenge across all agriculture. Relationships are typically built person to person, industry to farm enterprise, but that relationship can cause a data gap between where a business is based and where the actual crops are grown. It’s not a uniquely Australian problem, it’s right across the world.”

But there are also loftier goals at play.

The Australian Tree Crop Map has already been used by authorities and horticulture industry groups to track impacted areas following extreme weather or biosecurity events and provide assistance where it is needed, such during the recent varroa mite outbreak and the fight to maintain Paradise Dam.

Avocados Australia are embracing the benefits the map brings to their growers, particularly in relation to biosecurity response.

During the varroa mite outbreak, AARSC supported industry with a mapping app that overlays the ATCM with the emergency management and response zones produced by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, according to Avocados Data Analyst, Daniel Martins.

In the field: AARSC Senior Researcher, Craig Shephard, at work mapping Australia’s tree crops.

“Thanks to the geographical data that was available through the Varroa Mite Rapid Response Map, we were able to link up the incursion epicentres with grower records in the Avocados Australia database,” Mr Martins said.

“This allowed us to rapidly communicate with growers within eradication, surveillance and management zones, prompting them to take measures and assist containing the outbreak by following the protocols.”

Mr Martins said that Avocados Australia highly values the mapping tools provided by the AARSC, particularly in how they can help to manage biosecurity responses.

“The varroa mite outbreak highlighted the importance of creating and maintaining these maps, and we invite growers to ensure their orchards are correctly labelled and boundaries are correctly set,” Mr Martins said.

Water security, such as what has driven the fight for the retention of Paradise Dam’s capacity, is another practical example of the map’s use.

“Increasingly, we’ve got pressure on water resources in Australia,” Mr Shepard said.

“In the case of Paradise Dam, our maps were used to quantify the area under production using the irrigation supply scheme. Without those figures, you’re just relying on industry guesstimates.”

Industry collaboration

AARSC projects are so successful, both in engaging industry and receiving funding, because they are collaborative, with multiple commodity partners invested in providing a product that works for the industry in the way they want.

“At AARSC, at our core we are remote sensing scientists, which means we’re typically interpreting Earth observation, satellite imagery and the like,” Mr Shephard said.

“We can’t assign that information to supercharge our maps without industry involvement, because they have the knowledge and the contacts to be able to populate the map.

“This supercharging project is about providing these industry organisations with the tools to allow them to continue building the maps in-house and run with it in any way they need to.”

This symbiotic relationship between researchers and growers lead the AARSC to choose Brisbane Markets as the location for their remote office, with Australian Avocados, Australian Banana Growers Association and Australian Mango Industry Association are all based at Brisbane Markets, while the Australian Macadamia Society has offices elsewhere in Brisbane.

“Being based at Brisbane Markets with these organisations means we can achieve so much more, because you are able to meet in person and build those relationships with industry organisations,” Mr Shephard said.

Check out the maps

Click or scan the QR code to access and explore all of the publicly accessible AARSC maps. If you see something missing, the AARSC encourages growers and anyone involved in the horticulture industry to use the industry engagement tools or surveys to bring it to the attention of AARSC so it can be updated.

Bowen Pipeline project forges ahead

The Bowen Pipeline Project is making significant strides with a dual investment from 40 private investors and a Commonwealth grant, totalling $7.5 million for its detailed business case.

According to the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, the initiative aligns with the Townsville North Queensland Strategic Regional Industry Growth Plan, aiming to inject $150 million into the Burdekin Shire through agricultural advancements utilising water from the Burdekin Falls Dam.

Scheduled to commence construction in September 2025, pending ministerial endorsement, the project has secured necessary land agreements, completed engineering designs, and engaged in meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners, embodying a commitment to Indigenous prosperity and environmental sustainability.

The pipeline aims to supply 100,000 megalitres annually, bolstering both agriculture and the green energy sector, demonstrating a robust model for regional development and international collaboration.

Outbreak oversight: Industry groups were able to quantify the potential impacts using the Varroa Mite Rapid Response Map, which features the Australian Tree Crop Map.

Fight for dam finishes with no end in sight for Bundaberg growers

The announcement that Paradise Dam cannot be reinstated at full capacity until a new, replacement dam wall is constructed has ended the fight to return the Dam to full capacity.

The move comes after five years of agitation, which began when Sunwater announced in 2019 that the Paradise Dam wall was to be lowered, reducing its capacity to 42%, due to safety concerns.

Paradise Dam was built in 2005 on the Burnett River, 100 km southwest of Bundaberg. It suffered damage during the 2013 floods, after which safety concerns were raised and the dam wall was subsequently lowered by 5.8 m in 2020.

After a potential class action saw 2,500 claimants start proceedings to sue the Queensland Government for losses associated with water insecurity, growers won a temporary reprieve when the state government committed to returning the dam wall to its original height on Christmas Eve 2021.

Early work on returning the wall to its original height began in 2023, with the state and federal government each committing half of the $1.2 billion project. Major work was due to start in 2024.

In January 2024, Sunwater announced that Paradise Dam would need to be completely rebuilt after experts investigating restoring the dam’s wall told the Queensland Government that it could not be mended or reinforced due to the quality of the concrete used in its construction. Sunwater has recommended the wall be wholly rebuilt 70 m downstream of the current structure.

In February 2024, preliminary works began, and it was announced that the new dam wall would be designed by Australian engineering services firm GHD Group, in alliance with construction partners CPB Contractors and Georgiou.

Queensland Water Minister Glenn Butcher said the state government remained committed to restoring the full water supply delivered by the original dam and that a business case had been started and new environmental approvals were being sought.

He said the timeline and cost of the project would be confirmed once the business case and approvals were

complete. The dam will remain at the current lower supply level of 42% capacity during the rebuild.

While capacity will, reportedly, eventually be replaced, local growers are still no clearer on when, or if, this will occur.

According to Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers CEO, Bree Watson, January’s announcement was met with frustration and shock by the region’s growers.

“The plan to build a whole new wall downstream has had no timeframe and no costs communicated back to the farmers who are most impacted by this further delay, which only causes heartache and distress,” Ms Watson said.

Ms Watson said that there was also no guarantee of federal government funding to support the project, which was now fundamentally different to the project they originally committed to, and called on the Federal Government to make a formal funding commitment..

“Decisions like this affect grower confidence and their ability to expand production. We have reliability with the water we currently hold, it’s the lost potential and production that we’re now seeking commitments on,” Ms Watson said.

According to Brisbane Markets wholesaler, Todd Purdey from Shamrock Marketing, the new wall would likely take upwards of a decade to complete.

“The reduction of the capacity of Paradise Dam for the foreseeable future will have a huge impact on the Bundaberg region economically. If a grower isn’t located on the river, then most are reliant on irrigation, especially the big crops such as sugar cane, macadamia and avocados,” Mr Purdey said.

For now, water availability is not an issue. But the fresh produce industry has a long memory and as weather events become more unpredictable the spectre of drought looms large.

“They will get through it but growers in the region will be closely watching the weather; drought will be a major concern going forward. If they have two or three dry seasons in a row, that could be worrying,” Mr Purdey said.

Beyond capacity: The Burnett River spills over Paradise Dam during the 2011 floods.
Below capacity: Paradise Dam as it is today, with a reduced dam wall.


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