Australian Honey Gold mango production still on track despite recent disruptions

Despite some weather impacts across some growing regions and supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Australia's Honey Gold mango crop volumes are still expected to be as strong as last season.

Piñata Farms holds the rights to grow specialty Honey Gold mangoes across Australia and Managing Director Gavin Scurr admits that there have been some cyclone impacts, especially in North Queensland.

"It hasn't done any damage in terms of wind, but we have had a lot of rain on the crop," he said. "Rain never improves the quality of fruit, but having said that, we have got through it reasonably well. There hasn't been a lot of downgrades and at this stage, we are expecting the season to finish with a similar volume to the last couple. The further we have gone on with the season, the better it has got. Originally, we thought we would be down, but now it's looking quite similar."

But it has not just been the weather the company has had to deal with, but also the disruptions caused by the Omicron outbreak, that has also severely affected many parts of the food industry in Australia. Mr Scurr says plenty of his staff members have had to take time off after themselves or their families tested positive for the virus, but the impacts also spread to the supply chain.

"Largely, we have got through, and the team we have got has got the job done on a daily basis, so it hasn't affected us too much on the farm," Mr Scurr said. "But the supply chain has been disrupted right through to retail. The distribution centres have been working on severely reduced labour due to COVID and unfortunately, they have had to reduce or cancel orders because they didn't have the staff to be able to manage it at the retail level or store level. "

Piñata Farms also launched a major marketing campaign, before Christmas, which asked consumers to "trust" the expertise of Honey Gold growers behind the brand. It included billboards in high traffic areas of Sydney and Melbourne in the lead-up to the season's peak, and Mr Scurr says the feedback was great, although it is hard to often quantify whether it was successful.

"It was the first time that we have done that, and we had a slogan that Honey Golds were the best, so trust us because we grew them," he said "As with most marketing activities it is hard to quantify if it was a success or not, but people have definitely noticed and commented. It is just about lifting the profile of Honey Gold, as we are around 8-10 per cent of the Australian industry and we want to keep increasing. But it's hard to say what would have happened if we didn't do it, but we think it did well."

In some more good news for Piñata Farms this season, it is the first time in years that it has been able to produce strawberries due to the recent drought.

"They have been good quality, good fruit size and the eating quality has been amazing," Mr Scurr said. "It has been a challenge again with labour but we have got by and things have been going to plan. This time of year is all hands on deck, even more so this year with COVID, so the focus has been doing day to day activities and executing well. That's what we pride ourselves on as a business; executing well and delivering what we say we are going to do. It has been more challenging than normal, but our team has done an amazing job in difficult circumstances."

For more information
Gavin Scurr
Piñata Farms
Phone: +61 7 5497 4295

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