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Performance / June 25, 2020

Taste and Maturity: Update 2

There is currently a review of elements of the maturity sampling, taste programme and the broader interaction of grower incentives underway.  This review is being led by a sub-group of the Industry Advisory Council, with the members of that group being:

  • NZKGI: Doug Brown, Sally Gardiner and Mark Mayston
  • Post-Harvest: Ian Coventry, Michael Franks and Hamish Simson
  • Zespri: Tony Hawken, Blair Hamill and Dave Courtney. Peter McBride is chairman of the group.

The previous update, which includes areas of agreement and those identified for further discussion, can be found on The Canopy here.

The group met again on Tuesday 16th June. The discussion included a focus on the following issues:

  • Whether maturity testing and/or sampling need to remain independent or whether they could be carried out by post-harvest facilities or by laboratories contracted directly by those entities
  • If that independence was removed for one or both, how the integrity of the sampling and testing system could be maintained through quality systems and auditing
  • Whether testing for dry matter in packhouses as opposed to on orchard is feasible, in both 2021 and beyond, and if so, what the method of testing could be
  • A review of the consumer sensory work which is used to inform the graduated payment for taste and the MTS was presented. The data shows the relationship between higher taste and a larger proportion of the consumer population liking the fruit
  • Preliminary discussions on the benefits and costs of capping payments for TZG or dry matter and of other concepts including only having a minimum taste standard and an okay-to-harvest standard, similar to capping taste payments but without the graduated payment system
  • The concept of the final dry matter samples of being be taken during packing, rather than orchard sampling was also discussed. The Committee has sought further advice on this
  • The committee reviewed data on the impact on fruit storage of delaying harvest past the point where the storage potential of the fruit is eroded.

There was also a discussion on an interim sampling and laboratory services solution for the 2021 season.

It was agreed that Zespri should proceed to seek expressions of interest for independent sampling and laboratory testing services for 2021 to gauge interest and to test whether those services could be contracted for the upcoming season.

There was a view expressed that the development process should proceed given the very tight timeline, but that Zespri needs to keep in consideration the directions of the committee.  Any design decisions, or service provider discussions need to retain the flexibility to recognize that there may be some changes in direction required coming out of this committee’s decisions and react to these.  The Committee has said this development of a 2021 solution does not restrict the ongoing discussions about a longer-term solution, with those discussions to happen in parallel.

The process for gathering industry submissions and feedback will be confirmed at a later date.

Best Regards,

Peter McBride, on behalf of the Committee