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Australian Mango Conference attracts hundreds of delegates from across the country

Members of the Australian Mango industry have convened on Darwin for the 12th biennial Mango Conference.

FreshPlaza is attending the three-day event, which features a range of presentations from growers, exporters, government departments, wholesalers, research scientists and mango marketers.

"The focus is certainly on the decision making for consumers, which is firstly what the product looks like on display and secondly when they eat it," Australian Mango Industry Association CEO Robert Gray said. "If we can get the industry aligned to deliver on those two outcomes, we know that we can keep demand growing and that will convert into profitability for our industry."

Photo: Robert Gray addressing the conference

He adds that conferences like this, which are held every two years, are essential in sharing things like research and potential growth opportunities, as well as addressing the challenges faced.

"Collaboration within the industry is essential," Mr Gray said. "They say 'a rising tide lifts all boats' and if we can lift the total value of the mango industry by working collectively on the key issues that are holding us back, then everyone gets a benefit. Within that, everyone runs a commercial business and tries to maximise their position in that, but we'd much rather having people competing to get $30-40 a tray, rather than $8-10 a tray. The only way we can do this on mass is work collectively, as an industry by coming together, sharing learnings and remapping the things we are not doing well for next time."

Photo: location of the Mango Conference in Darwin, Australia

The conference comes off what many described as a "challenging" year due to weather events across many of the northern growing regions, but Mr Gray says some valuable lessons were learnt going forward.

"Our systems that we are building around forecasting, and it's about how we link that forecasting information to the marketplace," Mr Gray said. "Certainly, we were tested this year, but as we make them more and more robust, from season to season, we'll just get better and better in things like aligning of the crop, with the marketing activities. In saying that, a year like we have had, pushes us to hone skills in this area."

Australian mangoes have not just become a 'national icon' across the country, but across the world, with the premium product much sought after across the world - and their reach continues to grow.

"In terms of beautiful, sweet, good eating mangoes, we see ourselves at the top of the tree," Mr Gray said. "We have to be if we want to compete in those world markets; where we are a very expensive producer, we need to be doing something substantially better than the competition. So, in that space, that's where we are pitching ourselves.

Photo: Trade exhibition at the Australian Mango Conference 2019

He adds the domestic industry is also making a strong investment to protect itself from other countries wanting to send product to Australia, in that local producers are setting the bar high.

"The way in which we deliver great eating, great looking mangoes to our market place, means we have a lot less risk of other countries coming to Australia and taking that away from us," Mr Gray said. "More and more free trade agreements, and more open trade, means we are at risk from other mango producers that have lower cost of production targeting our market, but we are confident of the mix of our varieties and our mix of skills in producing good quality fruit will mean that our customers remain loyal."

Days 2 and 3 will feature more mango supply-chain related presentations, site visits, and the industry’s gala dinner. FreshPlaza will be covering many of the topics covered at the conference in more detail throughout the next fortnight.

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