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.
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