This project set out to identify ways to increase the average yields of the target processing vegetables. Australian frozen vegetable production continues to face increased competition from imported frozen vegetables. This competition from imported product is reducing margins for processors and growers alike. The industry must find ways to increase yields and/or reduce input costs to remain viable. Simplot Australia have set target average yields for the year 2020 as a benchmark for growers. Some growers have already achieved or exceeded these target yields.

The project set out to identify what the leading growers are doing, that the middle and lower cohort of growers aren’t. The aim is to find ways to improve the average yields of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans (green and yellow) and sweet corn, from the perspective of the growers, agronomists and industry personnel. The methodology used included a review of best practice and recent innovations for the target crops, as well as appreciative inquiry interviews with Simplot growers in Tasmania and New South Wales.

Appreciative inquiry is a semi-structured interview approach that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change. The approach takes the emphasis away from “problem solving” and focuses on the positives. Using one-on-one interviews, the interviewees were encouraged to think about positive aspects of the processing vegetable crops they grow, and what could be explored or what was needed to solve the “puzzle” around ways to increase the productivity and profitability of these crops?

Five factsheets have been developed, based on the information collected during the project. The information collected from the interviews and the review of best practices and recent innovations was used to develop a plan for demonstrations/trials to be explored in a second phase of this project.