Article by: Hari Yellina
Mattina Fresh, an Australian fresh produce company, has begun pear packaging after transitioning from the summer stone fruit season to the winter pome fruit season. Tom Panna, National Sales Director, explains that he has noticed an increase in demand for pears in recent years, and that one of the reasons for this is having a good eating product on the shelf to meet consumer demand. “Quality has been outstanding, and the size profile has improved, so there will be a lot of huge fruit this year,” he said. “There is a little more russet showing than usual, but the major retailers and APAL have gone through the process of permitting variance to help with that.”
“I believe there is a demand, and we can credit cooking shows like Master Chef for demonstrating how it can be used in salads and cooking rather than just eating it straight from the fruit bowl. There is a lot of debate about the pear’s state; some people prefer it hard and firm, while others prefer it mushy and ready to eat. Hopefully, that research will continue, and we will have a greater understanding of our market. I believe there is a higher demand because it is a versatile choice that can be incorporated into meals.”
Packham pears are grown in 6,000 bins, Williams’ pears in 1,500 bins, Buerre Bosc pears in 1,000 bins, and Josephine pears in 700 bins. “Packhams are our main focus, and as a business, we’re growing more pears,” he said. “As a result, we intend to expand our winter commerce in the future. We plan to export to Canada, the United Kingdom, and a small amount to Bangladesh and India. We’re interested to watch how those markets develop, considering that export has been almost non-existent for the past two winters. We’re excited to see how our products are received in these alternate marketplaces during the winter.”
Throughout the summer, Mattina Fresh’s major product is stone fruit, which just concluded its season a few weeks ago. Despite the hardships that the entire sector has faced in recent years, Mr Panna claims that as a firm, values have increased across all product lines. “It was a season where we thought the odds were stacked against us,” he remarked. “There are a variety of obstacles, ranging from labour shortages to logistics, freight cost increases, and just getting stuff into the package. We witnessed a positive increase in values, which indicates that we are on the right track. However, it falls short of meeting the new production costs, given the labour shortages and the cost of importing fertilisers and chemicals, among other factors.
Nevertheless, the fact that we were able to transfer a portion of those expenses onto the consumer while still shifting the requisite volume is a benefit. It didn’t cover the entire cost of production because we’re in a position where if we did, the consumer would most likely abandon us. So, it’s all about finding that sweet spot and concentrating on producing a good, clean, quality piece of fruit.” With less than five months until apricots return to the market to kick off the next stone fruit season, work is also on across the company, with 15,000 trees being planted to address some holes in their schedule, including yellow nectarines and yellow peaches. The company is also going to begin its citrus program in around six weeks.