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Ongoing project

Monitoring avocado quality in retail (AV19003)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research

What’s it all about?

Beginning in 2019, this project is monitoring avocado fruit quality in retail stores across the country and providing detailed, timely feedback to specific packhouses and the industry as a whole. Fruit quality has been identified as a challenge for the avocado industry, with surveys of fruit quality in recent years finding that up to a quarter of avocados in stores have significant levels of bruising, internal rot or other disorders.

The project team is conducting regular assessments at supermarkets, independent and specialty retailers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide over three years – providing some 600 separate quality assessments each year. Information is being recorded on factors such as quality of store displays, fruit age, pricing and potentially the difference in fruit quality between displays in the back and front of stores.

Passing quality information on specific batches of fruit to packhouses is intended to help businesses identify improvement opportunities and help address any inefficiencies or issues in their operations. De-identified data from the sampling is also being analysed to monitor industry performance on the whole.

ACT NOW

The project team will communicate the results of this research to industry via levy-funded channels including the National avocado industry communications program (AV18003) and extension projects Avocado industry development and extension (AV17005) and Implementing best practice of avocado fruit management and handling practices from farm to ripening (AV18000).

Keep up to date on any developments by signing up for communications on the Avocados Australia website here.

In the second year of this project, 461 fruit samples (10-fruit each) were collected at retailers in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Samples were assessed for internal defects, and quality reports were sent out to all Australian suppliers, as well as major and independent retailers. Most major Australian avocado suppliers have now received quality feedback on their fruit, with 62 different packers and marketers provided with at least one assessment since the project commenced.

A recent variation to the project introduced fruit maturity monitoring at the Sydney wholesale market. Samples are collected on a monthly basis, and percentage dry matter is reported back to the supplying packhouse. De-identified results are reported to other industry stakeholders via the Avocados Australia Best Practice Resource.

Major retailers continue to be engaged with the project through quarterly meetings where results from their stores are presented, and compared against the quality of their competition (de-identified).

Quality monitoring results continue to be presented to industry, including at regional forums and webinars. Additional analysis and discussion are provided in articles published in Talking Avocados magazine.

Since the last project update, the team report that 54 sampling rounds have been completed to date, assessing more than 6,600 fruit.

Feedback reports were provided in a timely manner, with a positive response from suppliers and retailers and the continued identification of improvement opportunities from both groups. 

Retail sampling was disrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions, with 6 out of 22 planned sampling events missed, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne. Sampling was largely uninterrupted in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Data continues to support the view that retail avocado quality has improved since 2015. A large dataset is being generated, and correlations are being made between fruit quality and factors such as retail display format, firmness, fruit age and growing region.

The team continued to share information with industry, via articles in Talking Avocados magazine, updates to the Avocados Australia Best Practice Resource, retailer meetings, and presentations at regional extension forums.

ACT NOW

Stay informed of developments by signing up for communications via the Avocados Australia website.

You can also read more about industry performance in Talking Avocados and through the Best Practice Resource portal.

Retail avocado quality monitoring commenced in May 2020, completing 38 sampling rounds to assess more than 5,000 fruit.

Feedback reports were provided to suppliers and retailers, with both groups responding positively and identifying improvement opportunities.

Initial data suggests that retail avocado quality in Australia has improved, although the second two years of monitoring are needed for confirmation. A large dataset is being generated, with correlations being made between fruit quality and factors such as retail display format, firmness, fruit age, and growing region.

Project communications are well established with articles in Talking Avocados magazine, industry reports on the Avocados Australia Best Practice Resource, and meetings held with the major retailers. Presentations at the industry regional extension forums commenced.

ACT NOW

Keep up to date on any developments by signing up for communications on the Avocados Australia website.

Read more about industry performance in Talking Avocados magazine.

Visit the Avocados Australia Best Practice Resource for more resources from this project.

Related levy funds
Details

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund