By Charlie McKillop
Updated 31 Jul 2014, 7:00pm
AUDIO: Industry leaders have urged growers to unite in the face of unprecedented pressure in the marketplace (ABC Rural)
Updated 31 Jul 2014, 7:00pm
PHOTO: The Australian mango industry is trying to evoke personal 'mango memories' in the battle for the hearts and tastebuds of consumers. (Supplied - with permission)
The Australian mango industry has called on its growers to unite in the face of unprecedented pressure from rival summer fruits such as berries and stone fruits.
With a peak season that aligns perfectly with the hot Australian summer, the industry is stepping up its marketing efforts in a bid to 'protect' its reputation as the 'king of the summer fruits'.
Its campaign will be built around enduring images of young nippers on the beach enjoying a succulent mango, in a bid to evoke people's own 'mango memories'.
"It's fascinating when you talk to people all over the country. They talk about the memories of summer and there's always a mango woven in there... there is a childhood memory for everyone that's around mangoes," said the industry's new marketing manager, Treena Welch.
But Ms Welch - whose appointment is part of a makeover of the industry's peak body, which includes for the first time the role of a CEO - says that does not mean mangoes 'sell themselves' and it's clear growers have a role to play in ensuring the quality of the fruit hitting the market is meeting the high expectations of consumers.
hat is about picking and packing to specification, choosing a wholesaler who's going to manage and protect that specification, and then ensuring that we pick the fruit at the right maturity, not be tempted to do otherwise."
A recent cold snap and a succession of warm days in the mango industry's northern heartland of the Atherton Tableland and Burdekin region augers well for this year's crop.
But the message delivered to growers at a workshop at Walkamin, 80 kilometres west of Cairns, by industry leaders this week makes it clear the Australian mango industry isn't taking anything for granted.
Ms Welch says growers must realise when it comes to marketing mangoes, there's no place for regional or varietal parochialism.
"Think of your competitors as other fruits, as other fresh foods; think of them as the berry category that's marching so fast towards that space, think of stone fruits, cherries.
"To protect and preserve the mango status, we have to unite, brothers in arms. We are not competitors, we are one."
As mango trees start to flower here in far north Queensland, growers appear generally happy with the new direction their industry is taking under the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA).
But Frank Bosnic, one of many to attend the AMAI workshop, knows only too well the key determinant of the size and quality of this year's crop is one over which growers have no control.
"The biggest part is weather. We probably don't mind rain, which helps us with the growing of our fruit, but we don't want to be picking in the rain. That's what really devastates us.
"Temperatures, we don't want any heatwaves. Just normal growing temperatures would be ideal."
"You wait 12 months of the year and it's all there in front of us, waiting for us to get it off the tree and get it into the box and off to the consumer.
"It's a good thing, a beautiful thing and consumers can't wait to get stuck into the mangoes."