Marketing just as important as quality, says orchardist

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
Karragullen orchardist Paul Civa.
Camera IconKarragullen orchardist Paul Civa. Credit: Countryman

Karragullen orchardist Paul Civa believes that to be a success, you have to do more than just grow great fruit.

The third-generation grower said it was also important to be good at marketing and retailing your produce.

Mr Civa said selling produce direct to consumers at both the Claremont Primary School and Leederville farmers markets is just as important as dealing with retailers - in some cases the same retailers his grandfather traded with more than 60 years ago.

"My grandfather, Mario Tonuso, immigrated from northern Italy in 1927. After hard work and determination, he bought his own land and started an orchard on Canning Road in Karragullen in 1937," he said.

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The orchard was later taken over by Mr Civa's father, Nando Civa, and was moved to its current location on Brookton Highway in 1976.

Canning Orchard produces summer fruits, apples, pears and persimmons, which are sold direct to consumers, retailers and at the Canning Vale market.

Mr Civa manages both the day-to-day running of the orchard as well as marketing of the fruit. He said dealing with consumers and retailers directly had helped to set his business apart.

Mr Civa said he also picked produce at the optimum time, because it was important that the fruit look and taste good. "I will walk through my block and taste the fruit," he said. "If I think it is good, then I will bring some home to my family to try."

A fruit tree may be picked up to three times before it passes the Civa family taste test.

While every industry has its challenges, the fruit industry has been dealing with increased competition from imports and the rising cost of production. "The lack of new-blood coming into the industry is also a problem," Mr Civa said.

However, he said the industry was positioned for a positive future, with consumers increasingly aware of the health benefits of fresh, seasonal fruit.

"We won't be able to stop imports. It is better that we grow quality produce that people are willing to pay for," Mr Civa said.

"We are better off focusing on niche markets and producing quality products due to our high cost of production."

Mr Civa said the family was considering growing new fruit varieties such as loquats and figs and planned to plant avocados next year.

He said keeping up with trends and following the market was an important part of any successful business.

"Consumers are always looking for something new and exciting," Mr Civa said. "We have to work at keeping fruit interesting."

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