2017 BBM Youth Support Award for Agriculture
Katherine is a recent QUT graduate with a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Marketing and Public Relations and a keen interest in Agribusiness. Her award journey was a study tour of the UK markets to explore challenges and opportunities for Australian exotic and tropical fruit exports.
This is her report.
My BBM Award Journey
I applied for the BBM Youth Support Award as it presented an exciting opportunity for personal and professional growth. A study tour to the UK enabled me to develop my knowledge and understanding of in-market consumer research in a country that has a different fruit market to Australia. I believed this opportunity would allow me to communicate and share my findings within my university, academics, colleagues and the wider community. From this opportunity I was hoping to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market for exotic and tropical fruits in the UK, in order to develop a strategy to advance competitive advantage of Australian product for market entry into the UK.
I spent two weeks in London, the first at the start of my trip and the second at the end where I stayed in South Kensington. I chose to spend the most time here as it is the biggest city with a diverse population and demographic areas. Although I spent two weeks here in total I believe that I only experienced a small amount of London life. The weather in London for both periods was exceptionally hot by London standards, with temperature in the high 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. I stayed in an apartment in Kensington on busy Holland Road in a renovated house in a suburban area.
Key points of interest include:
- I started my research in the shopping “centre” of London – Oxford Circus and Regent Street. It was a Monday afternoon and there was a large number of people around, made up of shoppers, tourists and workers. I visited the Marks and Spencer Food Hall; Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express. The fresh food produce was packaged for convenience with meal and snack size portions and was similar in all food outlets. There was a plentiful supply of local fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries as well as pineapple, rockmelon and bananas, at what appeared to be affordable price (e.g. raspberries at 2 for 4 pounds). The mangoes from Puerto Rico were green and unappetising to buy. Kiwi fruit from New Zealand were in four packs as were the South African passionfruit and cherries from Spain. In addition to single fruit selections, fruit was cut and served in convenience packaging, for example melon free fruit salad; berry medley; strawberries, raspberries and blackberries; mango, pineapple and orange medley; nectarine, strawberry and orange selection. The fruit was of good quality appealingly displayed and well-priced, but we did not observe anyone purchasing it!
- I was fortunate enough to get a ground pass to Wimbledon Tennis which is not only known for the tennis, but its strawberries and cream! As with my experience with all such events the food was expensive and didn’t look overly appetising. My illusions of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon were let down by the many refrigerated shelves of plastic containers with cut Kentish strawberries and strawberries sitting in cream that had been poured on them earlier on in the day. The strawberries were not particularly sweet but were well-priced at 2.50 pounds.
- Tesco’s Superstore at Shepherds Bush is open 24hours per day. It was just like a really big supermarket in Brisbane, with a large display of fruit including a plentiful display of tropical fruit. Fruit was both pre-packed including the packaged fruits noted at the express store and loose. Country of origin is clearly displayed on all fruit/price labels/packaging. Tropical fruits included pineapples, mangoes, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and berries. It was well-priced, of the quality expected in a large supermarket noted for cheaper prices, and displayed clearly.
- I visited a number of restaurants and cafes but was generally not offered tropical fruit and it was not included as a garnish. There are a number of “Australian” style cafes opening around London. For example: Deliciously Ella, Polly’s, and Jamie Oliver. These offer breakfast with healthy options such as Acai bowls; avocado sourdough and poached eggs and healthy smoothies and juices. It was noted, however, that at the same time as offering healthy menu options they were generally fully licenced and had a vast selection of alcohol behind the bar. This appears to a revamped pub scene where instead of the traditional dark pubs there is a light bright café where you can sit and drink. The pub scene remains a great tradition in the United Kingdom.
- My visit to Selfridges was a highlight and they were running an Aussie style promotion. The food hall here is amazing and I spoke with the manager to gain some insights into their policies. Sustainability is a key to Selfridge’s ethos and everything they do is measured for its carbon footprint. There is no plastic in the store – that is no plastic bottles, wrapping, products, employees are not permitted to bring a plastic, single use bottle or wrapper into the store. The Aussie style promotion almost didn’t happen because of the carbon footprint of bringing product from Australia and New Zealand, and I noted that many of the Aussie products, such as lamingtons, were actually manufactured in the UK. There was a wide variety of high quality and expensive tropical fruit (Kiwi fruit 2.10 pounds each) but some of it was not of great quality (mangoes were soft). Organic fruit was also available at a much higher price.
- Harrod’s food hall was less impressive than Selfridges. The food was equally as expensive (kiwi fruit from New Zealand at 18 pounds per kilo and Colombian passionfruit at 25 pounds per kilo), with country of origin clearly shown and very inviting displays of a small quantity of each fruit. It had the feel of an upmarket speciality store.
- Whole Foods Market in Westminster is a speciality grocer marketing itself as healthy. Its tropical fruit was sourced from global growers with most of the berries labelled with Driscoll’s as the producer. There were both packs of single fruits packs of mixed cut fruit. The displays were inviting and the fruit was of a high quality with similar pricing to other stores.
Oxford is a small university town in central southern England that centres around the University of Oxford, established in the 12th Century. The economy of Oxford is diverse, with education and research at its core. Industries in manufacturing, publishing and science-based source drawing expertise from two of the world’s leading universities. Oxford is a cosmopolitan city made up of a large student population, migrant labour attracted to the car plants (Mini and BMW) and hospitals, and more recently immigration from Southern Asia with
ethnic minorities making up about 27% of the population.
I stayed overnight in Oxford and unfortunately the guesthouse accommodation was of a poor standard which was not helped by the heatwave. I went on a self-directed walking tour and found Oxford to be a bustling, pretty and historic city with a vast contrast of people including tourists, students of all ages, workers and families.
Key points of interest include:
- There is a covered market area with trendy shops, great coffee and fruit and vegetable stalls. These had mainly vegetables, bananas, apples and similar staples. There were avocados from Mexico, and some peaches – it all looked hot and overripe.
- The High Street is home to Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores that contain similar fruit to London. These are conveniently located and busy stores. There is a lot of convenience packaging of fruit.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its chief commercial centre located on the south coast. It has a revitalised port area and part of the city is new, modern and chic with nice restaurants and shops. Cardiff Castle is situated in the city centre at the Northern end of the mall, and is a short walk from Cardiff Arms Park, a world renowned rugby union ground that is home to Welsh rugby. Cardiff University is the 10th largest university in the United Kingdom and is known for its research excellence.
The population of Cardiff is ethnically diverse as a result of its past port and trading, post-war immigration, and the large numbers of foreign students who attend university in the city. Both Welsh and English languages are spoken in Cardiff.
I stayed in a modern budget hotel close to the large amount of new student accommodation being built in association with Cardiff University. It was a short walk to the city centre and a convenient bus ride to Cardiff Bay, where university graduations were being held when we were there.
Key points of interest include:
- I met with Wales Health. The local government is very concerned about children’s health and have similar concerns to that noted worldwide – a lack of exercise and fresh fruit. They noted that fruit is generally of a poor quality and a high price. They love mango but it is price prohibitive. Avocados are on the menu at “better” restaurants, probably for Australian tourists!
- There was a distinct difference between the newer area and the mall closer to the castle. The newer area had well-dressed people, including office workers, and many nice restaurants and inviting shops. As we walked up the mall the shops looked run down and had a feel that they were cheaper, doing poorly and attracting a lower socio-demographic group.
Manchester is a city in England located approximately 260km northwest of London, and is the highest ranked city in United Kingdom outside of London. It is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station; scientists first split the atom, and developed the stored-program computer.
I arrived here the night after England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup Football tournament 2018. There had been violence in the city on the previous evening following England’s win and the city was buzzing with excitement for the next game. Manchester is the home of Manchester United, a football team that competes in the premiers league and has a fanatical following. There is a large museum dedicated to the team. Manchester has a new shopping area and a number of major department stores including Selfridges.
Key takeaways include:
- Many homeless and begging all over the city. They were lying on the footpath and actively asking for money.
- Many supermarkets in the city centre including Sainsburys, Marks and Spencers, Tesco and express stores.
These have convenience packs of berries, bananas and vegetables.
- There is an Aldi in the main street that is large and busy but the fruit looked to be of poor quality and not presented in an inviting way
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is located on the north eastern coast of the United Kingdom. The city is steeped in history with Edinburgh castle on the hill overlooking the city and an interesting walk down the Royal Mile. This is a very pretty city with lots of history and lots to do. The shopping is plentiful and food places are great with lots of variety of cuisine.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is a tourist attraction that was interesting to visit and gain appreciation for the life of the royal family. It was easy to catch a bus to the Ocean Terminal. This looked fairly new and had an impressive M&S food hall, with fruit in convenience and snack packs. The avocadoes looked horrible.
- Many supermarkets in the city centre including Sainsburys, Marks and Spencers, Tesco and express stores. These have convenience packs of berries, bananas and vegetables.
- Lots of tourists and shoppers
Glasgow has the highest population of any city in Scotland and is situated on the River Clyde. It has a central mall and many restored shopping and eating areas off this. Glasgow historically supported industries such as coal and iron ore, mining, and ship building due to its proximity to the river. Post World War I and II the city suffered from economic decline and the effects of the depression. By the early 2000’s Glasgow entered a period of economic revival and economic regeneration which has continued to date.
Glasgow is the starting point for tourist attractions such as Loch Lomond, the Isle of Skye and many other remote and picturesque areas of Northern United Kingdom. It is also the home of Glasgow University, one of Scotland’s four ancient universities founded in 1451. It is spread over a number of different campuses with architecturally beautiful buildings and located near beautiful parklands.
Things to note:
- We travelled to Glasgow University by train. This works on two circle lines – one goes clockwise and the other anticlockwise. The carriages are notable short/low and small. The system is clean, cheap and efficient.
- I did a day trip to the north of Scotland. It was picturesque and interesting. A highlight of my trip.
- Perthshire, north of Glasgow, is known as the garden bowl due to its rich agricultural strath (a large valley). Cereals such as wheat account for most of the crops but they also grow oats, oilseed rape, potatoes and strawberries. Strawberries are generally grown under cover and provide the largest source of income among horticultural crops.
Dublin (Republic of Ireland)
Dublin is part of the EU and not part of the United Kingdom. It is the largest and capital city of Ireland and the major transit city between cities in the United Kingdom. Dublin is the home to many high tech and large companies, such as Google, as a result of an advantageous tax regime introduced post GFC to attract employers to the country to reinvigorate it. Dublin has the youngest population in Europe and it appears vibrant, well-dressed and happy.
Things to note:
- It was the worst food I’ve eaten in restaurants on the trip and very expensive in the city centre
- There were some nice coffee shops and cafes outside of the city centre
- Brown Thomas is a major retailer with a fabulous looking food hall with well displayed fruit and vegetables. I am told it looks like Marks and Spencers when it first started and was very upmarket.
- Marks and Spencer was the best looking store of this brand I’ve seen.
- Grafton Street is an expensive mall where tourists shop
- Henry Street is another major shopping area frequented by locals.
- The Guinness Factory is a very interesting and interactive museum to visit.
- Irelanders are very concerned about the effects of BREXIT. It appears that they didn’t really understand many of the intricacies of the separation of UK from EU. For example the hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland that could be built.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and the largest city. In the 1800’s it was a major port and the world’s biggest linen producer. It was also the port where the Titanic was built and continues to be a major port. Belfast suffered badly in the 1970’s and 1980’s during the Northern Ireland conflict and it was considered to be the most dangerous city in the world. The Europa Hotel Belfast was bombed 33 times between 1970 and 1994 but has had a major makeover and is now considered to be the best hotel in town. Belfast is now a peaceful city and is the centre for industry and government in Northern Ireland.
Things to note:
- Small city and run-down looking
- There is not much going on and it appears empty after 6pm.
- No major supermarkets in the city centre
- There are many restaurants with an appealing ambience. I had high quality, nutritious meals.
- Tesco Express sold poor looking fruit, it was all imported except for British strawberries
- Lee Foods Oriental Supermarket was similar but had very large watermelons
- The Co-op had very limited fruit and vegetables and of poor quality.
Northern Ireland, Galway
I drove from Belfast to see more of Northern Ireland, and then drove along the west coast down to Galway before heading back to Dublin to catch a plane to London.
Key points of interest include:
- From Belfast I travelled north to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – got there early for a magnificent morning and spectacular views. Was a fun activity and really tested my fear of heights!
- Then to Giants Causeway where I did a 3 hour walk along the cliffs down to the stones – the walk was spectacular, it was hard to see the stones due to all of the tourists.
- Derry (or Londonderry) is the second largest city in Ireland and the location of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in the late 1900’s. In summer each year small pockets of trouble tend to break out with minor bombings and civil unrest. It is a pretty city with a river running through it dividing the city into 2.
- Galway is a seaside town and popular with locals and tourists. There are many nice places to eat and drink near the sea. I didn’t go into the city.
- Cliffs of Moher are again a part of a spectacular coastline. It was a precarious drive there through narrow country lanes but definitely worth the effort
- In both Derry and Galway I stayed in BnB’s which was perfect for a one night accommodation – very friendly owners, who gave lots of insight into things to do and see.
I would highly recommend visiting Edinburgh in Scotland. This was by far one of my favourite places. There is so much to do – from tourist attractions, eating, drinking, shopping and walks. It is a really beautiful place to visit. If you have time in Scotland I would definitely do a tour (I just did a day tour) to north Scotland and the Highlands. This tour made me fall in love with Scotland and all its beauty. On the bus you travelled through the country side up to the three Lochs.
We then spent some time at Loch Ness before we continued further north to the Highlands. This was a personal highlight as I have always had a love of Highland Cows, so to see one in person was incredible. Along the way you learnt interesting history about Scotland and the land. You also learnt many traditions, stories, music and a few Scottish sayings. If you have the time to visit Edinburgh and do a tour of Scotland I would highly recommend because it has left me wanting to go back and discover more. If I had more time in Scotland I would have loved to travel over to the Isle of Skye – locals say this is an incredible place but you need at least three days to get there and back.
This trip was truly amazing. Not only did I immerse myself in the culture and see and do so many things, I enriched my knowledge and understanding of in-market consumer research in a country that is different to Australia.
I was able to gain an in depth understanding of the fruit market and the demand for it in the UK. From my explorations it is evident that sustainability is a key demand for the future of importers into the UK and is important to citizens. In order to increase competitive advantage for Australian growers, it is important that they place emphasis on sustainability and exporting with a neutral carbon footprint through means such as packaging and transport. This trip has sparked further interest in me to work with my mentor and others to develop strategies to advance competitive advantage of Australian product for market entry in the UK.
From this experience I also gained confidence in myself and my abilities, as I have never travelled alone for a long period of time before. This trip has opened my eyes to the world and I cannot wait to discover more of it. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity that BBM provided me with.
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