Sharp increase in desire for fresh fruit
A SUBSTANTIALLY constant increase in healthy eating has lead to a higher demand for fresh foods over the past five years, meaning fresh fruit is being favoured by communities, not just across our country’s national market but also internationally.
According to a local fruit cold storage and transport company and Fruit Growers Victoria, the demand for fresh fruit has seen an impressive jump over the past five years, with the demand leading to higher planting numbers and efficiencies in growing.
A census taken last year, recording data of fruit trees from across the Goulburn Valley since 2009, revealed that 1,819 hectares of fruit trees had been planted over the past five years, inclusive of stonefruits, pomefruits and other fruits.
Of the 1,819 hectares 87 hectares of apple trees were planted in 2009 compared to 120 hectares in 2013. A total of 509 hectares of apple trees were planted over the five year period, with only 62 hectares of those trees being used to produce fruit for canning and the remaining sent fresh into the market.
Jeftomson Director, Peter Thompson said, “Since 1949 we have been prevalent in the fresh fruit industry.
“We’ve been finding with our company that if you do everything right then there will be more demand.
“The supermarkets have been offering very high quality fruit because they have been very strict on companies like ours with quality requirements and particularly now, people are really trusting the fresh produce they get from the supermarkets.
“Many years ago people would go to the butcher for their meat and the greengrocer to get their produce, now at least 70 precent of shoppers do it all in one spot, so they have a lot more trust in the fresh side of the business than they had when I was growing up.
“Over the year we provide about 90,000 bulk bins to the supermarkets across Australia, which has been constant for the past couple of years.
“The demand for prepacked apples has been getting bigger and bigger. It’s actually been a very sharp increase and the volume we have been putting out has been increasing quite rapidly in the last five years.
“Our business has grown a lot in the last five years and that obviously is due to an increase in the demand for fresh produce.
“The quality of Australian produce is certainly as good as any in the world and we can make an excellent product.
“Personally, I eat a lot of fresh apples and pears and would prefer fresh over canned goods.
“Demand for fresh produce actually caused the apple and pear season to be expanded in Australia to run all year round now,” Peter said.
Fruit Growers Victoria General Manager, John Wilson said, “In 2006 the apple and pear industry had to modernise and so we looked at how to maximise state of the art fruit growing for the Goulburn Valley and Australian conditions.
“Modern planting conditions now allow for a more efficient planting and growing process to accommodate the increased consumer response to healthy eating.
“Between 55 to 60 percent of orchards have gone from growing 800 trees per hectare to now growing 3,500 trees per hectare and have gone from producing 30 to 40 tonnes per hectare to producing 80 odd tonnes per hectare.
“Australia grows a very good product and people trust Australian freshly grown produce. There is still a market for processed fruit but it’s a changing market because the consumer is changing.
“In saying there is a movement towards fresh, people don’t sit down as much to a can of fruit at the end of a meal, the eating habits of the Australia consumer has changed and transport and storage has changed.
“The fresh market will continue to grow,” John said.