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Historical document

Custard apple supply chain tour, Canada and Singapore, 2009 (CU08005)

Key research provider: The Fruit Company Limited t/a Natures Fruit Company
Publication date: February, 2009

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

The Australian Custard Apple industry was quickly moving towards an oversupply situation during its peak production periods of March through to April. Improvements in variety selection and production systems saw increased in volume in previous years.

The reliance of the industry on export into Asian countries was seen critical to the success of the industry into the future. Domestic demand for fruit was targeted to population bases where large numbers of consumers with Asian backgrounds resided. This was mainly around the Sydney and Melbourne regions.

As the industry continued to expand its production base the need to develop new markets and consolidate traditional markets was imperative. The Australian Custard Apples Growers Association (ACAGA) identified export markets as being a strategic target market for the future development of the industry and its sustainability.

The study tour was designed and developed to specifically investigate:

  • The market development potential for Australian custard apples in the Western Canadian market of Vancouver
  • The market dynamics in the Singaporean market that were key drivers to the growth in sales in a traditional export market where maturity in sales was reaching its peak.

Natures Fruit Company (NFC) as a leading exporter and marketing representative of the Sunshine Coast Jadefruit Custard Apple Marketing Group (SCJCAM) led the study tour into these markets. The Vice President of ACAGA, Ros Smerdon, was also a team member on the tour.

Indications from the Singaporean market were that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) impacted the market in terms of the ability to sell increasing volume of imported exotic tropical fruit lines. As Singapore was a major financial hub in Asia the impact was extremely severe from the GFC. The major importers indicated that the market would remain however quality and price would be determining factors in the ability to move larger volumes of fruit in the foreseeable future.

The opportunities for market development into the Canadian market were limited to a few importers. The major impediment to developing a larger footprint within this market was due to the consolidated nature of imports and wholesaling across the supply chain. Many of the importers also acted as wholesalers that in turn sold to secondary wholesalers. Both the importer/wholesaler and secondary wholesaler were vying for the same customer. This caused some issue in terms of maintaining a price point for the development of the product.

One item that was common to both markets was logistical issues. For Canada it was the shear cost of freight into the market for the number of fruit required. Traders in Singapore highlighted the need for better control of product coming in to ensure maximum shelf life of the fruit.

There was little competition for these markets as the Pinks Mammoth variety was unique to Australia. Although some imported inferior varieties were available in the Singaporean market and to a lesser extent in Canada. These fruit mainly originate from Taiwan.

The uniqueness of the Pink Mammoth variety allows Australian producers almost exclusive access to these markets. With virtually no competition from complimentary products custard apples in export markets held the key to the industries continued sustainability.

The issues of market development in Canada was a challenging one, although the populace, some 350 000 Chinese descendents in the greater British Columbia region, opened many opportunities that were worth exploring. Growing sales in the Singaporean market were largely based on price point and quality. As greater volume allowed a better choice of product, buyers would move their attention to Brand specifics to ensure they could capture and grow their markets. Growers and exporters were recommended to concentrate their efforts on ensuring product destined for export markets were suitably graded and packed. Poorly presented fruit would only cause issues for the industry at a period when the industries participants could least afford it.

Related levy funds

0 7341 2036 2

Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of The Fruit Company Limited t/a Natures Fruit Company.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2009. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).