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Performance / Taste and Maturity: Update 3

Taste and Maturity: Update 3

Dear Industry,

Following a meeting on 1 July the IAC sub-committee considering maturity sampling and the taste programme has agreed on a number of next steps, including confirming the baseline approach to the 2020 season and tasking working groups to develop further proposals for consideration by industry.

The group has agreed on the following decisions:

  • Sampling will be on orchard only in 2021.
  • Alongside that, packhouse sampling to be trialed to inform a discussion on whether it should be considered as a long-term solution.
  • Orchard sampling will require a layer of independence, with a working group to outline the mechanisms for ensuring that independence.
  • Lab testing will be able to be carried by any appropriately qualified lab, including those affiliated with post-harvest entities, provided samples are blinded.
  • Test results will now only be released once final and at a set time (tentatively 3pm on the day following sample collection), as opposed to interim results being made available. This will ensure more certainty for growers and put less pressure on the system.
  • Two working groups will be established one to focus on the sampling and lab testing questions and the other focused on taste. This will include the systems to be put in place in 2021 and beyond. The terms of reference, membership and key questions they will be tasked with answering will be confirmed by IAC and communicated to industry.

Most of the key features from previous sampling systems will be retained but there are a number of key questions to answer, including the key metrics to be measured and the rules around sampling. The Taste working group will also outline the shape of the Taste incentive programme for 2021.

These will be finalised by the working group and reported to IAC. The groups will include a mix of technical, market and commercial expertise.

With regards to taste, the committee has previously agreed that the Minimum Taste Standard should remain in place to ensure only good tasting fruit gets to market, driving value and repeat purchase

Beyond that, the committee will consider further options to incentivise taste to reflect consumer demand for higher tasting fruit. The suggestion of capping testing when fruit pressure drops to a point that it impacts storage will also be considered, along with capping taste payments beyond which the additional value to growers is not reflected in the additional price paid by consumers.

Some of the questions put to the working groups require immediate answers to allow systems to be put in place for 2021 and to ensure they are built into the new Zespri centralised reporting system. On these, the IAC will make decisions to allow the system to be built, while broader, structural changes will go to industry for consideration.

To note, a separate working group will be established to carry out a longer-term trial on packhouse sampling to determine its viability, including whether it is practical and more accurate than on-orchard.

NZKGI’s discussion strawman proposal on this is attached.

Finally, there was a discussion about sampling and testing services in 2021. This included the idea of smaller, regional-based sampling services supported by industry guidelines as an option for ensuring greater capacity in the system, as well as a central jobbing system and the possibility of tests being allocated to ensure providers would be better able to plan.

An update on the working groups will follow.

Previous committee updates can be found on Canopy here.


Peter McBride, on behalf of the IAC sub-committee