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Enrique Rossi - Budou Farms

"Being so close to harvest with the current port situation is worrisome"

Australian grapes seem to be starting at their normal time compared to the last few years and conditions have been overall better than last year, when it was very wet, but still not fully back to normal compared to five years ago, with full sunny and dry, hot days. Unfortunately there is a persistence in cloudiness which might have an impact for some varieties upon management explains Enrique Rossi from Budou Farms.

"At Budou Farms we are about 2 weeks away from starting the harvest of our Crimson with color and size being very good, but just waiting for the right taste that is preferred by our customers and consumers, as we are known as the 'So Sweet'."

Enrique said that being so close to harvest with the current port situation is worrisome, "The voyage to Japan is expected to go from 16 days to 25 days and there is no guarantee that this would even happen. Also the frequency of vessels went from every 7 to every 10 days, therefore space is very tight on each creating issues for distribution at destination as well. This not only affects the Japan route, but all Asian destinations."

He comments that the port dispute has gone too far and for too long, "The government preaches that it cares about farmers and rising costs, however it does nothing to try to put an end to this long dispute, regardless of which side you are on, it is not only affecting the agricultural sector, but also other businesses and consumers within Australia. Delays and possible quality issues with fresh produce could jeopardize Australian brands overseas, making us not competitive in this industry, where for the sake of some, everyone else loses and that is the problem, they forget about the rest."

Enrique says may have to hire fewer people, to adjust the flow of the harvest to achieve the new timeline of voyage and frequency of vessels, adjusting cold chain and storage times, adding extra cost and also increasing the chances of losing fruit if it rains. He said packaging will be a key player in this scenario for example sulphur pads will have to be chosen carefully, considering the extra storage.

"However not everything is bad as now workforce shortage issues have declined, also we are awaiting for the final confirmation of new varieties being accepted from Australia into Japan, we hope this happens by the end of the Japanese financial year in March upon governments decisions. With this we have been engaging with the Japanese supermarkets and importers to be ready when this happens, so hopefully once again we have a "sweet "entry with new varieties and consumers can appreciate new shapes, sizes, crispness and crunchiness, as well as extending the season."

This year Budou Farms are releasing their new box which uses around 20% less material and allows then to ship close to 15% extra per container, making it very efficient and more environmentally friendly than the standardised industry box.

"We tested it last year with long storage and it worked very well, so we are proud to have a different way to pack and different packaging. Hopefully we can add a few other details to our packaging to become 100% recyclable and or compostable and work is underway with sulphur pads as well as liners, we aim for this goal to be achieved by 2025-26."

For more information:
Enrique Rossi
Budou Farms
Tel: +61 421 839 145