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Performance / July 10, 2020

Taste and Maturity: Update 4

Dear Industry,

The IAC Taste and Maturity sub-committee has confirmed the membership and terms of reference for two working groups as part of the committee’s consideration of changes to maturity sampling and the taste programme.

There will be two working groups – one focused on sampling and lab services and another looking at taste. The details of the two working groups are laid out below. A working group to consider packhouse sampling will be established at a later date.

1- Sampling and lab working group

Chair: Frank Bollen, Zespri Technical Manager
Members: Rob Carter, Brad Stevens, Cam Clayton, Craig Sims, Helen Allen

Terms of reference:

This is a technical group to advise and make operational recommendations to the IAC sub-committee, adding details to proposals put forward by the IAC sub-committee. It will:

  • Review and advise on system changes for the 2021 season – noting they are working to a very short timeframe
  • Resolve outstanding issues on which Zespri requires feedback to issue the RFP or set the system design specifications for the 2021 season – another very short timeframe
  • Review any other system and process change proposals for 2021
  • Identify options for system improvements for 2022 and beyond
  • Add detail to the proposals, rather than coming up with new ideas

2- Taste working group

Chair: Dave Tanner
Members: Frank Bollen, Shaun Gardner, Carla Nina, Craig Ward, Jan Benes, Stewart Moss, Richard Fraser-Mackenzie, Sean Carnachan, Margot Cotter

Terms of reference:

This is a commercial and technical group to advise and make recommendations to the IAC sub-committee both for 2021 and beyond. It will:

  • Review all proposed approaches to managing taste. (As of today, four have been proposed to the committee – they are outlined further down in this update).
  • Work with Zespri’s marketing team to identify the most critical drivers for taste and how these balance with supply chain constraints to optimise the overall returns to growers
  • Propose one or more refined model options for assessment by the IAC sub-committee which consider:
    • Expected impact on total amount paid out in taste and any expected changes in grower production behaviour such as trading of taste for yield or other unintended consequences.
    • How repeat sampling and holding on for taste in the light of any other proposed changes could be expected to impact grower behaviour.
    • Expected impact on fruit flow to packhouses for KiwiStart and MainPack and expected impacts on fruit quality.
  • Expected impact on the markets and sales. Identify improvements for 2022 and beyond.

Note that the Minimum Taste Standard (MTS) is out of immediate scope. It needs to remain and at the current levels, although it can be considered how fruit near to the MTS is managed to ensure the tail of poor tasting fruit is reduced. How the MTS could be enhanced beyond 2021 will be considered once decisions for 2021 are made.

The following proposals will be developed for the taste working group to consider.

  • Changing taste payments to change grower behaviour around repeat sampling – TZG. 
    • The option of capping TZG payments needs to be further investigated. This would consider what would the appropriate cut-off level be, the likely volume of fruit that could be freed up earlier and what would likely grower response be.
    • Is the option of adding a maturity metric such as a firmness cut off point which limits further accumulation of TZG payments an acceptable option. The working group will look at how this could be implemented, particularly how to ensure fair sampling around the maturity cutoff point.
    • Does the option of paying growers by taste band rather than the current continuous scale need to be investigated? The working group will consider where bands could be, what tests would be needed to achieve a band and quantify issues around the ‘cliff faces’.
    • The working group will also consider whether this can be in place for 2021.
  • Changing grower behaviour around repeat sampling – MTS.
    • As an alternative to changing the rewards for growers to produce higher DM fruit, should more focus be placed on low taste fruit?  What options are there to identify lines of fruit with high proportions of fruit below the MTS? The group will look at options to manage this poor taste fruit more intensely such as paying less for the fruit.

The aim of these groups is to report back to the IAC sub-committee by the end of July on matters which require immediate decisions to be taken for 2021. This will allow any changes to be built into the new Zespri reporting system which is now in the EOI phase. The IAC sub-committee has made it clear that this timeframe cannot unjustifiably constrain thinking about a better long-term solution though it is clear some concessions may have to be made in the interim.

The other, less urgent questions, including those for 2021 and beyond, will be considered over a longer period.

Once developed these proposals will be put to industry for consideration.

Previous updates on the committee can be found here.

Regards,

Peter McBride, on behalf of the IAC sub-committee