The 2018 European Industry Leadership and Development Mission was held from 5-13 February and provided an opportunity for eight vegetable levy payers to visit the Berlin Fruit Logistica trade show – the world’s premier international meeting place for the fresh produce trade – as well as the Berlin wholesale market and leading researchers and agribusinesses in the Netherlands. The mission was funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy, voluntary contributions from vegetable growing businesses and contributions from the Australian Government.

The primary objective of the mission was to ensure that members of the Australian vegetable industry were exposed to the latest technical innovations, industry research and industry networks through their participation at the Berlin Fruit Logistica, the world’s leading fresh produce trade show, as well as gaining a hands-on, comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the European vegetable industry to bring back home to evaluate their own businesses and the national industry as a whole. The mission also provides a unique opportunity to interact with members of their local industry to strengthen their local networks that will be beneficial following the completion of the mission.

The experiences gained on the mission are then disseminated to growers through a variety of methods, including a report to Hort Innovation, article in leading industry publications Vegetables Australia and the AUSVEG Weekly Update and widespread dissemination by participating growers through their local networks, to ensure that the lessons learned from the mission are accessible to the wider industry to provide insights into current and emerging trends in the global fresh produce industry.

The mission incorporated attendance at the Berlin Fruit Logistica, the world’s largest trade show for the fresh produce industry, as well as tours of Berlin’s wholesale market (Berliner Groβmarkt), leading Dutch research organisation Wageningen University, and leading Dutch seed company Rijk Zwaan and one of the world’s most innovative and unique food producers Koppert Cress.

Written evaluations were undertaken by participants to provide a record of each day’s events and ensure information was retained, while debriefing sessions were held regularly discuss key points of interest and insights that could be brought to Australia. This feedback has been included to form recommendations for future international study mission projects to ensure they remain relevant, interesting and worthwhile to delegates and the wider industry.