One of Australia's leading produce companies says this year's stonefruit crop is looking the best it has in years, with good fruit volume and size.
Montague is gearing up for the start of the main export season later this month.
"Peaches and nectarines will begin in late November and we’ll run through until April with late season plums," International Strategy Manager, Claire Fitchett said. "We have very good volumes of our premium CROC EGGS brand plums starting late December and will have plenty of supply for Chinese New Year."
China will quickly become a key market for Montague, and 2018 will be the first year shipping peaches and plums to the Asian country. Ms Fitchett says the company has learnt a lot about the market from the past two seasons supplying nectarines.
"The main one being that it’s critical to wait until fruit is at optimum quality before starting to ship,” she said. “We have given our customers confidence by only supplying fruit that meets our minimum brand specifications for brix, firmness and flavour. We have more volume of Montague exclusive white nectarines available this year to send to China. We know customers in China will love the varieties of plums that sit within our CROC EGGS brand. Many of them are familiar to them from Kingsburg’s Dino Brand from California. Peaches packed under our ‘the Montague Tree’ brand will also do well, particularly some of our exclusive high brix varieties which will be available in the weeks leading into Chinese New Year."
Ms Fitchett adds that Chinese customers hold their produce from Australia in high regard, due to its quality and ability to supply the market.
"We have the benefit of being able to supply tree ripened fruit with better flavour by airfreight within a few days, something our competition aren’t able to do," she said. "Our customers know that when they buy Montague branded varieties, they will get premium quality. We’re excited to be able to support our key customers in China this year with promotional activities to drive brand awareness of our two brands."
The company is also preparing to commence work on its new production facility at Narre Warren, near Melbourne.
"This state-of-the-art facility will allow us to pack, cool and load export shipments more efficiently, in line with our increasing production of stonefruit and apples. We aim to have the new facility ready in 2020," Ms Fitchett said.
Montague has its own stonefruit orchard near Swan Hill, as well as an extensive grower network who grow and pack on behalf of Montague for domestic and export orders.
"Given we supply Australia-wide, it’s critical that we work with the best growers in each region to ensure consistent supply throughout the season," Ms Fitchett said. "We have growers in all major stonefruit growing regions from Queensland to Victoria and across to Western Australia."
Montague will work closely with T&G Australia for the export of our stonefruit again this season. Customers can enquire about Montague brands through both sales teams.