How it all started
In Australia, lettuce and brassica vegetables – broccoli and cauliflower – are grown in places such as Werribee South, Bairnsdale (Victoria) and Gatton, Lockyer Valley (Queensland). These vegetable crops are mainly produced for local consumption with only limited exports to South-East Asia – lettuce to Singapore, broccoli and cauliflower to Singapore and Brunei. Approx. 6,000 ha of lettuce and 10,000 ha of broccoli and cauliflower are under cultivation.
Farmers supplying Australian supermarkets are seeing increasing demands for production information and often have to comply with three different kinds of requirements: the quality standards laid down by the supermarket chains, the food quality and environmental standards demanded for Freshcare certification, and the food safety management system’s requirements.
Fresh Select, a leading vegetable grower and wholesaler, approached Bayer to discuss the company’s sustainability initiative after seeing the committed and leading role Bayer was playing in sustainable agriculture. Together, the partners discussed how Fresh Select could go beyond quality and safety compliance programs to demonstrate its sustainability leadership to its key customers. The starting points for this project were Fresh Select’s involvement in Bayer’s integrated pest management (IPM) project and the company’s own “Nurture” sustainability initiatives.
left: Richard Dickmann, Head of New Business Development of Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd.; right: John Said, CEO of Fresh Select
Who is involved
Fresh Select is a vegetable grower and wholesaler, managing a number of contract growers, and is a key supplier to large Australian supermarkets. It operates farms in both Southern Victoria and Queensland, ensuring year round supply for its customers. Fresh Select is driven by the desire to provide the highest quality and freshest produce through developing enduring relationships with local growers.
The contract growers involved in this Food Chain Partnership project do not only sell their produce to Fresh Select, they also receive active support from Fresh Select through shared quality assurance systems, sustainable farming techniques, and the latest industry information.
Bayer CropScience Australia’s commitment to sustainability was demonstrated by two projects in this partnership. The first was to develop a truly sustainable pest management solution based on its own (and even competitors’) products, biological controls, and cultural practices. Bayer brought together various stakeholders to develop and deliver these innovative approaches. Finally, the Bayer Sustainability Radar, a tool developed by Bayer CropScience to measure sustainability performance of the farming practises implemented in Food Chain Partnership, was used; as the means of enhancing agricultural sustainability, measuring progress, and communicating the work being done by its partners. The commitment to sustainable farming shared by Fresh Select and Bayer brought the two businesses together to work on sustainability initiatives.niques.