Implementing best practice of avocado fruit management and handling practices from farm to ripening (AV18000)
What’s it all about?
This project will help the avocado industry achieve further improvements in fruit quality, by facilitating the adoption of better practices – from what happens on the farm through to dispatch from the ripener.
The project team are looking at the current level of quality-related best practice adoption in the industry and where improvements can be made, with a focus on those practices that are known to impact on fruit quality, as revealed by previous levy-funded R&D.
These insights are then being used to deliver knowledge and technical support to growers, packhouse operators, transporters and ripeners. This is occurring through workshops and training activities, as well as the development of two supply chain case studies. Here, the project team will be working with two chains to monitor current performance, implement improvements, and measure the benefits.
Look out for opportunities to learn and get involved in industry channels.
With only six months to go in this project, the project team are currently focused on collecting data to share with the industry on the practices, cool chain and resultant fruit quality from 40 supply chains originating in the five main production districts across Australia.
The results to date indicate generally good fruit quality emerging from the avocado supply chains, with 89 per cent of fruit meeting consumer expectations. In 2021, the project continued to focus attention on those 24 per cent of supply chains not meeting the industry target for quality (90 per cent of fruit with <10 per cent damage) in order to maximise repeat purchase behaviour by consumers. Emerging factors impacting on post-harvest quality include the effectiveness of in-field disease control, the use of postharvest fungicide treatments, maturity of fruit, the shed departure temperature and time in the supply chain.
In response to COVID-19, the project team has adjusted the balance and delivery of scheduled training and information resources, in order to maximise engagement with supply chain personnel during this time of disruption. This has included the delivery of a collection of articles, factsheets, videos and reviews of Best Practice Resource content on the Avocados Australia website to help support adoption and supply chain behaviour practice change.
Progress continues with results indicating good fruit quality emerging from avocado supply chains.
As well as sharing best practice information across the sector, the team continued to work with the small proportion of supply chains not meeting industry quality targets. Factors impacting post-harvest quality continue to be the effectiveness of in-field disease control, maturity of fruit, shed departure temperature and time in the supply chain.
The team adjusted the balance and delivery of scheduled training and information resources, to support adoption and supply chain practice change, amid COVID-19 related restrictions.
This included the addition of articles, factsheets, videos and reviews to the Best Practice Resource portal on the Avocados Australia website. The team also conducted two workshops to discuss audit results, with presentations also made at four regional meetings.
Visit the Best Practice Resource portal on the Avocados Australia website to access more information, tools and training materials. The Portal is regularly updated with new materials as they are developed.
A new factsheet Assessing fruit firmness through supply chains is now available.
And these articles were shared via the Guacamole newsletter
- WA growers review quality from the 2020/21 season, 28 May 2021
- Linking fruit maturity to uniformity of avocado ripeness, 23 July 2021
- Extended storage reveals concerning rots, 23 July 2021.
This project is now well into the second year of monitoring 40 supply chains from five target districts across Australia. The results to date indicate good fruit quality emerging from these avocado supply chains. Emerging factors impacting on post-harvest quality include the effectiveness of in-field disease control, the shed departure temperature and time in the supply chain.
Disruption caused by COVID-19 delayed some workshops, however the team were able to bring forward delivery of several training and information resources, so that they could continue to share details with industry participants via the Avocado Australia - Best Practice Resource portal.
It is expected that several regional meetings and industry workshops will return to a face-to-face format in 2021, providing the opportunity for the team to engage directly with growers, packers, wholesalers and ripeners.
The Avocado Australia - Best Practice Resource, available on the Avocados Australia website, contains articles, factsheets and videos sharing best practice guidelines aimed at improving the quality of avocados provided to consumers.
Since the last update, the following articles were published about the project in Talking Avocados:
- Harvesting during wet weather – consider all the risks, Volume 31, number 2, p63-64
- AV18000 Avocado Supply Chain Feedback Project, Volume 31, number 2, p40-41
- Ensuring consumers get the ripeness of fruit that they want, Volume 31, number 2, p68-69.
To date in 2020, the project team have been focussed on the three factors most likely to impact post-harvest avocado quality, based on data collected in 2019. These include the level of field inoculation with anthracnose, the shed departure temperature, and time in the supply chain.
Despite temporary disruption due to Covid-19, project monitoring recommenced in June, tracking consignments from central Queensland. Results to date indicate good fruit quality emerging from quick central Queensland supply chains.
A crucial part of the project is engaging supply chains to identify areas for improvement so that consistent quality fruit is delivered to consumers. The team conducted regular discussions with supply chain partners during monitoring, and plans are underway for workshops late in 2020 to discuss findings.
The team have developed training and information resources to support adoption of supply chain best practice change. This includes a collection of articles, factsheets and videos, and a review of the Avocados Australia - Best Practice Resource content available online.
Available on the Avocados Australia website, the Avocado Australia - Best Practice Resource is a collection of articles, factsheets and videos sharing best practice guidelines aimed at improving the quality of avocados provided to consumers.
Several videos are available, providing an update on the findings and project progress:
- Temperatures through the supply chain
- Time in supply chain stages
- Pack-shed departure temperatures
- Fruit quality reaching retail
- Ripeness and fruit quality
- A playlist is available if you wish to play more than one of these short videos.
Read more about the project outcomes here:
- Implementing best practice of avocado fruit management and handling practices from farm to ripening published in Talking Avocados, Winter 2019, p38
- What was your fruit quality like in 2019? published in Talking Avocados, Autumn 2020, p56-57.
The project team has completed the remaining supply chain audits to complete 40 investigations in five regions. De-identified benchmark data was collected regarding management practices, temperature management and fruit quality.
The findings from the audits were discussed with growers and industry members at five benchmarking workshops, with valuable input provided by attendees. The focus on delivery of improved and more consistent fruit quality prompted positive feedback and helpful ideas for how to improve data collection in the future.
Several potential case studies were identified to support future communications to industry, which be used in conjunction with year two data when it is available.
Activities are underway for this project with the research team successfully engaging several district packhouses to begin their examination of supply chain practices and how they impact avocado quality.
You can read an article on this project, ‘Driving practice improvements in domestic avocado supply chains’ which was featured in the industry magazine Talking Avocados.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund