Despite the ongoing disruption from COVID-19 and the snap lockdown preventing Victorians from travelling to the event, over 2,200 delegates from all sectors of the horticulture industry descended on the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 7-9 June to ‘Celebrate the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables’. There were hundreds more who tuned in and streamed the speaker sessions.

Hort Connections encompasses the vegetable, fruit, nut, cut floral and nursery sectors. This year, more than 60 event sponsors and industry organisations partnered to provide added value to delegates and allow them to access the expertise and services of a range of industry members in-person and online.

The three-day event was the premier opportunity for supply chain members, growers and industry stakeholders in the fresh produce and floral industry to see the latest in technology and innovation, hear from industry experts, meet leading local and global agribusinesses and network at the most highly anticipated social events on the industry’s calendar.

Major sponsors of Hort Connections 2021 included Hort Innovation (Principal Convention Partner), Syngenta, Coles and the Queensland Department of Agriculture.

Delegates at Hort Connections 2021.

Trade Show

The snap lockdown in Victoria did little to dent the impact of the Hort Connections 2021 Trade Show, which was a major highlight of the conference and presented an unparalleled opportunity to network with the leading supply chain partners in Australian horticulture.

It featured around 190 industry partners from across every sector of the industry and provided delegates with the chance to look at the latest trends, technologies and services to give their businesses an edge in both productivity and profitability.

The trade show was sponsored by Australia’s Fresh Produce Markets. During the event, many growers and industry members were able to forge new partnerships with a range of leading agribusinesses and reconnect with friends, colleagues and supply chain partners to celebrate the achievements of the horticulture industry through what was the most difficult year for many businesses and communities.

The Hort Connections 2021 Trade Show also featured a dedicated networking hour, with the Trade Show Happy Hour sponsored by Nufarm taking place at the close of Tuesday 8 June, which allowed delegates to mingle with exhibitors around the entire trade show.

Industry events

A number of industry events that catered to growers and supply chain participants were held in conjunction with Hort Connections 2021:

  • Lockyer Valley Growers Expo.
  • Avo Connections.
  • Potato Industry Networking Event.
  • Queensland Horticulture Export Congress.

Networking opportunities

Throughout the conference, networking events were held to connect growers with agribusinesses, researchers and representatives from all areas of the supply chain, transport and retail sectors, including the Hort Connections Gala Dinner, multiple off-site and on-site events held by Hort Connections sponsors and a variety of other events that coincided with the conference.

Gala Dinner

The capstone event of Hort Connections 2021 was the Gala Dinner, where industry members from across the supply chain gathered to celebrate the achievements of the best and brightest in the Australian horticulture industry. Queensland vegetable growers Andrew and David Moon won the Syngenta Grower of the Year, while Fresh Markets Australia won the 2021 PMA-Produce Plus Marketer of the Year Award for its ‘A Better Choice!’ – Shop & Win campaign.

Jennifa D’Souza and Tayla Field from One Harvest spoke at the Gala Dinner.

Speaker sessions

Delegates heard from industry experts during an intensive speaker program that featured cutting-edge research. These included:

The Annual Vegetable Industry Seminar, which covered:

  • Making horticulture more attractive for prospective workers and students.
  • Advanced crop protection.
  • Export and trade.
  • Fruit and vegetable marketing.
  • Increasing children’s consumption of vegetables.

Supply Chain and Consumer speaker sessions, which covered a number of topics such as:

  • Overview of the consumer market for fruits and vegetables, and state of the industry.
  • Market access.
  • Fresh produce safety.
  • Data management.
  • Business innovation.

Plenary Sessions featuring thought-provoking leaders and industry figures:

  • Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
  • AgTech leader Jack Milbank.
  • Author Alice Zaslavsky.
  • Food Frontier CEO Thomas King.
  • Athlete and Peak Performance Coach Adele Spurgin.
  • Consumer Trends Specialist Lewis Muscat.
Plenary speaker Jack Milbank from AgPro Technology.

Find out more

Please visit the Hort Connections website.

Further articles can be found in Potatoes Australia – Winter 2021, which will be released in July and Vegetables Australia – Spring 2021, to be published in September.

Cover image: Hort Connections 2021 Trade Show. Photography by Andrew Beveridge.