ABGA Summary 2013/14
AGBA’S Role in Benefitting Members
The Australian blueberry industry is expanding rapidly. With approximately 6,000 tonnes of blueberries produced per annum with a farm gate value of $A120 million, the role of the Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association has become more important than ever. As production levels increase, the ABGA continues to drive the increase of consumption and export opportunities in the domestic and global market.
In-store demonstrations were completed in selected Coles, Woolworths and Independent Supermarkets in order to drive sales of Australian Blueberries. Raising the awareness of the health benefits associated with blueberries was an important part of the new look campaign featuring a revived stand design and roaming trays. The campaign ran for 8 weeks (beginning in October 2013 and concluding in January 2014) with around 30,000 samples distributed.
A consumer competition was run through our Facebook page in which consumers were asked to share photos of how they most enjoy fresh Australian blueberries. The eight best images selected will win a blueberry farm tour. Likes on the page have more than doubled since the competition’s commencement with the goals of building the Australian Blueberries fan base and gaining an insight into our consumers being achieved.
Print and online advertising was utilised this season which allowed our message to get out to a large audience; 182,000 readers for the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine and 156,403 viewers on the Australian Healthy Food Guide website along with 87,000 viewers on the Taste website.
A new information leaflet and poster has also been created which will be available for members. The Australian Blueberries consumer website continues to be maintained and updated with 10 new recipes in development.
2013 BerryQuest & AGM
The Australian Blueberry Growers Association teamed up with Strawberries Australia and Raspberries & Blackberries Australia to host BerryQuest 2013: Australia’s combined berry industry conference. The theme of the conference was “Best Berries for Australia and the World”.
Held from the 8th - 10th October 2013 at the Foothills Conference Centre in Mooroolbark, Victoria, the conference exceeded all expectations with a total of 190 delegates registering! Delegates included berry growers, industry related businesses and relevant researchers from around Australia and the world. The Annual General Meeting was held during the conference where the association’s finances were discussed along with the election of officers. The event was a great success and allowed all industry stakeholders to come together and learn from one another.
Field Days & Information Sessions
The 2013/14 season had a number of field days and information sessions available to growers across a number of regions. The AGBA would like to increase participation in these days, as the benefits from these events are high. The following are some of the field days and information sessions carried out over the past year with the substantial help of growers:
- 18th June 2013 – in Woolgoolga, New South Wales. Topics: Disease management workshop (strategies to minimise rust and Botrytis), Shared Labour Pool programs and improving the health of Hearns Lake.
- 3rd August 2013 - Mark Chapmans in Silvan, Victoria. Topics: Fan forced cooling and controlled atmosphere storage.
- 31st October - Elizabeth Town, Tasmania: Tasmanian growers meeting.
- 4th May 2014 – Moondarra Blueberries in Moondarra, Victoria. Topics: Food fibre marketing grants, weather issues and their effect on blueberry production, blueberries from a global perspective, biology of Queensland Fruit Fly along with management and market access issues and pruning Northern Highbush varieties.
Social Media & Websites
The ABGA is ensuring Australian Blueberries are promoted to the widest possible audience through the use of social media platforms and websites. Currently compelling information on both the Australian member’s and consumer’s websites is updated regularly to ensure access to the most recent blueberry news around the world is available. These sites allow the ABGA to pass on articles relating to health, market growth, recipes, blueberry innovation and growing techniques to growers and consumers. The messages are conveyed in a short, succinct style; grabbing the attention of an ever growing audience.
The Australian Blueberries Facebook page continues to grow with 2,196 likes at time of print. Comments and questions can be made easily by ‘page likers’ on the Facebook page and information can be shared from this site to your own farm’s page.
For more industry specific and agricultural information, the Australian Blueberry Growers page was made as a platform for discussion and a place for support. Growers should feel free to ask questions and raise any issues on this page. Thanks to those who have been active on this page and I hope to see more growers getting involved!
The Twitter page for Australian Blueberries was launched in 2012 and is currently reaching out to 250 followers. The Twitter page offers opportunities to ‘re-tweet’ information which means that Australian Blueberries can present information from all over the world as well as its own. Our own tweets have been re-tweeted by pages with thousands of followers.
Pinterest is an image/video sharing social media site and is growing at a rapid rate; by January 2012, the website had a reported 11.7 million unique users. A study in 2012 found that Pinterest is the third most popular social media site, behind Facebook and Twitter. With approximately 80% of female users, Australian Blueberries is focusing on health, well-being and recipe based images.
The new Australian Blueberries website was launched in May, 2013. The new design is vibrant and engaging with a focus on user functionality. The success of the revamp was immediate with page visits increasing from 95 per day in April 2013 to 2,867 per day in September 2013.
The industry website is the first point of contact for information relating to the Australian blueberry industry. To ensure that this information is accurate and easily accessible, a website upgrade is currently being completed. Improving communication within the industry is the main goal of the new website which will feature a members only section complete with a forum where idea and questions can be shared. The upgrade is due for completion in July 2014.
Milestones are set out for the ABGA’s committee with the team supporting Research and Development to the full extent of the human and financial resources at hand in order to best equip Australian blueberry growers.
Chemical review processes are being conducted regularly by the ABGA to ensure growers have the best products available to keep their farms free of pests and disease. Research is also conducted and reported on regarding emerging chemicals, diseases and pests.
Projects are ongoing throughout the year with one of the most important areas being worked on at the moment being market access. The ABGA is currently working on opening vital international markets such as Japan, China and Korea.