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Case Studies

Developing trust in a citrus value chain

Address:
Mid West Gascoyne, Western Australia, Australia 6151
Description:

Farming Together stream: Expert Support
Case: 01501
Group Name: WA Citrus
Product/industry: Fruit

The group and challenge
The WA citrus industry faced downward price pressures. A large group of small producers were struggling for viability while a few large operators, who dominated the market, embarked on expansion. These investments had the potential to worsen over-supply issues, jeopardising the industry through lack of planning. In addition, alternative markets and value-add opportunities were needed for second grade fruit, to boost incomes and minimise waste. Lack of trust between growers and other value chain participants, and a history of separate-step activity (grow>process>distribute>sell) highlighted the need to explore collaboration.

Bronwyn Walsh, Industry Manager of Citrus WA, approached Farming Together, hoping to review the strategic plan they had created three years earlier. A key challenge would be to create an effective collaboration structure and governance processes, and to help members understand the benefits of working together.

“As Industry Manager for a member-based organisation, my role is to look for opportunities to bring people together. We chose a structure with representatives from growers, packers, exporters, agronomists and government agencies, to help secure critical volume and to minimise costs,” Bronwyn Walsh.

“We were keen to get expert advice so we could understand what was possible. We wanted to see a tangible increase in profits as well as gain access to new markets.”

Field Days with agronomists. Bronwyn Walsh, WA Citrus.

Farming Together Services and Support

Expert Services delivered

  • Business structure assessment
  • Collaborative systems and processes
  • Meeting Facilitation

Impact and outcomes
Farming Together consultant and Director of ‘Agknowledge’ Peter Cooke, had assisted with the groups’ strategy 3 years earlier. He was re-engaged to:

  1. Analyse the value chain in consultation with growers, agents, processors, and retailers
  2. Collaboratively update the 2015 strategy and develop a 5-year plan, subsequently agreed to by the groups’ board
  3. Develop and present case studies from other sectors to lift the groups’ understanding of collaboration benefits.

Peter saw that the group had made significant progress. “They moved from no exports to 3,000 tonnes per year and estimated a rise to 8,000 tonnes for 2018.” However, much of this gain was from individual effort. An industry vision for collaboration had not been mapped or implemented. The review refocused the group on leveraging their group advantages: upgrades, consolidation and joint use of packing sheds, group input into export marketing; more efficient waste management; and joint product development for second-grade fruit. The group explored feasibility options for juice supply to local sports events and examined cross-industry opportunities (with Veggies WA).

“Without the Farming Together program, this review and recalibration of the group’s strategy would not have been possible. Now they are stronger and internally more trusting. They are better able to adapt to changing conditions, and be more competitive –individually and collectively.” Peter Cooke

Future Directions
By pooling their resources, buying collectively, sharing skills and working collaboratively the group increased production volumes. They have developed more robust varieties and improved quality standards. Next steps include profit improvement measurements and developing a plan for bio-security.