T&G Global has become the license holder of a suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia, allowing it to better deliver to growing demand for berry fruit worldwide.
The exclusive agreement represents one of the biggest collections of proprietary commercial and pre-commercial blueberry varieties in the world and is the result of an agreement between T&G and Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. The arrangement includes varieties developed by Plant & Food Research and a collection of premium varieties from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon, USA, for which Plant & Food Research holds the Australian licensing rights.
T&G’s Executive General Manager International, Sarah McCormack says T&G currently trades large volumes of berries from North and South America, New Zealand and Australia and is a grower in its own right. “T&G now has the exclusive rights to grow 16 of Plant & Food Research and Fall Creek varieties in Australia which we are very excited about,” she says. “Fall Creek is a significant global player in blueberry breeding and propagation, and Plant & Food Research have had some real success in breeding blueberries for temperate climates.” This new agreement will allow T&G to drive further growth in one of its key categories and key markets through managing the supply chain from plant propagation to plant distribution and marketing. “Our new arrangement allows T&G to expand our footprint for berries in Australia,” Sarah continues. “The portfolio includes Northern and Southern highbush varieties, as well as Rabbiteye which will suit a range of growing climates and market windows. This new suite will allow us to grow for, and export from Australia, which complements our existing growing and marketing operations in New Zealand. There is a good mix of varieties which are proven internationally, and we also have some really promising varieties which are yet to be commercially released.”
The varieties T&G has licensed in Australia are high yielding, with a great flavour profile. Sarah says T&G has already received interest from growers wanting to plant them. “We are looking to work with growers across all Australian states as the varieties are very adaptive to different growing conditions. We’re primarily looking for partners who like T&G adhere to SQF-Harps growing principles and share our commitment to ethical and sustainable growing,” she adds. T&G expects the first plants to be available in early 2018, and will scale up production for commercial plantings from 2019. David Hughes, Group General Manager Commercial for Plant & Food Research says, “This arrangement is a natural evolution of our very successful and longstanding commercial licensing relationships with Fall Creek Farm and Nursery and T&G. “We are excited about T&G’s commitment to delivering fresh fruit across a longer season, with more options for great tasting blueberries for Australian consumers from production in New Zealand and Australia.”
T&G’s General Manager Diversified Horticulture Damien Gibson led the discussions with Plant and Food Research over the new agreement over the past 12 months and says it’s exciting to see it coming to fruition. “We’re fortunate to have a long established and successful commercial partnership with Plant & Food Research,” Damien says “Together we’re leveraging the fundamentals of that relationship across to the berry category. Plant & Food Research have been proactive in getting a lot of the pre-commercial work completed so we’re in a strong position to build from that.” To support the investment further, T&G has appointed a new Commercial Manager of berries based in Australia. Danny Nightingale is based in Brisbane and will be actively working with local growers.
Australian fresh blueberry production has more than tripled since 2007 when volume was 2,000 tonnes per annum to 7,660 in 2016.