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Fund management

At Hort Innovation it’s our job to work with industry to invest the onion levy and Australian Government contributions into initiatives to help growers be as productive and profitable as possible, through the Hort Innovation Onion Fund

What is the onion levy?

Levy is payable on onions that are produced in Australia and either sold by the producer or used by the producer in the production of other goods. Hort Innovation manages the onion levy funds proportion directed to R&D set at $2.90 per tonne and the marketing levy, which is set at $1.00 per tonne.

These levies are collected by the Australian Government and then entrusted to Hort Innovation. It is then Hort Innovation’s responsibility to work with industry to invest the lev – together with Australian Government funds in the case of R&D – into strategic R&D and marketing initiatives.

You can find full details on the levy rates, plus information on how to lodge a return and make a payment with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, on the government website here.

How are levy investment decisions made?

Investments specific to the Hort Innovation Onion Fund are guided by the industry’s Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) and Annual Investment Plan (AIP). SIPs provide an overarching roadmap for industry to follow, and AIPs detail how levy dollars will be spent each year to achieve industry goals.

To learn more about how Hort Innovation makes investment decisions, watch the video below or scroll down for more information.

What is the onion Strategic Investment Plan?

The onion SIP 2022-2026 is the roadmap that helps guide Hort Innovation’s oversight and management of the onion investment program. The SIP lays the foundation for decision-making in levy investments and represents the balanced interests of the onion industry. The most important function of the SIP is to make sure that levy investment decisions align with industry priorities.

In 2021, the onion SIP was refreshed to reflect the current needs of the onion industry. The refresh involved close consultation with growers, industry participants and the wider research community.

The onion SIP details the industry’s strategic goals centred around four outcome areas: demand creation; industry supply, productivity and sustainability; extension and capability; and business insights. Under each of those outcomes, there are industry-specific strategies and key performance indicators that provide guidance on how the onion industry will work towards achieving the outcomes.

For the previous onion SIP, a performance report has been developed to demonstrate how investments delivered in the Onion Fund from 2016/17 to 2020/21 generated impact for onion growers. The report provides an overview of key achievements delivered through each levy investment, and how they relate to the industry’s SIP outcomes and strategies.

While this performance report provides a five-year review of the onion SIP 2017-2021, going forward an annual performance report will be provided for the onion SIP 2022-2026.

View the onion SIP 2017-2021 performance report here.

What is the onion Annual Investment Plan?

While the onion SIP provides an oversight of investment over the next five years, the onion AIP explains how levy funds are going to be invested over a twelve-month period.

AIPs are developed each year by Hort Innovation, informed by the SIP and industry consultation, and then discussed with the industry SIAP for feedback and prioritisation. Investment decisions will be guided by the industry SIP and prioritised based on potential industry impact, as well as availability of levy funds. 

The AIP provides detailed information on:

  • Funding availability
  • How the onion industry is investing against their SIP outcomes
  • Details on current investments across R&D and marketing.

The AIP will be published on this page each year and industry stakeholders will be notified via Hort Innovation’s established communication channels. Download the 2021/22 onion Annual Investment Plan here.

Where do investment ideas come from?

There are many avenues that investment ideas come through – such as growers, delivery partners, previous projects, research networks, industry bodies, regional extension plans, and extension personnel. Before any ideas are progressed, Hort Innovation will investigate whether investment aligns with the SIP and whether investment is needed in this area.

Growers are invited to submit their ideas any time at Hort Innovation’s investment idea form or by contacting a Hort Innovation employee directly. Industry participants and delivery partners can contact a Hort Innovation employee directly if they have an idea outside of the SIP consultation process. 

Any submission or suggestion will be reviewed by Hort Innovation to ensure it aligns with industry needs as identified in the SIP. 

How are investments prioritised?

To gain industry insights for strategic levy investments, Hort Innovation consults with growers through the onion Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP).

Hort Innovation develops draft investment recommendations based on investment ideas that are aligned to the onion SIP. Each recommendation includes high-level information on the aims of the project, outcomes, deliverables and budget.

The recommendations are then taken to the relevant advisory panel for feedback and prioritisation based on potential impact and available funding. Details of projects that will be progressing are then featured in the AIP.

The onion SIAP consists of industry supply-chain stakeholders, most of whom are levy-paying growers. Panels also include industry representative body representation and, where applicable, a lead agency representative from within the National Horticulture Research Network.

The SIAP is in place to discuss investment ideas, in order to provide advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments. The advice they give is guided by the industry's SIP.

The SIAP provides a vital link between meeting the priorities of industry and helping Hort Innovation to make decisions on how, where and when investments need to be made.

How are investments progressed?

After the investment has been prioritised, it’s then up to Hort Innovation to get the project up and running. This involves a tender process where the best delivery partner is chosen to undertake the project. Each delivery partner needs to submit regular milestones that report on their progress and at the end of each investment, a final report is produced that is made available to industry on what the project has achieved.

How to keep track of investments

Investments in the Hort Innovation Onion Fund are detailed in the Your investments page of this Onion Fund section of Hort Innovation’s website. Resources that are produced by the projects – such as fact sheets and guides – are also available through the Research reports and more page.

Hort Innovation also sends alerts about project updates to its members. Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a Hort Innovation member, but signing up is free here.

The levy-funded communications program, run through the investment Australian onion industry communications program (VN18003), also provides regular information on levy-funded activity.

Financial documents

Financial operating statement
July 2021 to March 2022

SIAP details

Panel meetings and summaries






April 20, 2016

Melbourne, VIC



September 29, 2016

Melbourne, VIC



July 10, 2017

Melbourne, VIC



March 14, 2018

Melbourne, VIC



October 17, 2018

Devonport, TAS



April 2, 2019

Melbourne, 2019



July 15 and 16, 2020




March 10 and 29, 2022



The panel 




Peter Shadbolt

Onions Australia


Dr Richard Jones

Rathlyn Associates


Yvonne Smith

Bowhill Produce


Kees Versteeg



Steve Rathjen

Delta Produce


Tim Groom

Onions Australia


Michael Rettke PIRSA (NHRN Representative) SA
Fund Annual Report 2020/21
Fund Annual Report 2020/21
Strategic Investment Plan
Strategic Investment Plan
SIP – At a glance
SIP – At a glance
Onion Annual Investment Plan 2021/22
Onion Annual Investment Plan 2021/22