The company’s key export – the Phoenix mandarin – is a seedless Murcott variety and 2PH’s own unique fruit.
“We’re non-commodity growers,” explains Pressler. “Commodities are such that everyone has Imperials for example. We want to produce a small amount of a product that really can’t be found anywhere else, so we don’t have to be a price taker.”
However, business expansion through developing new export varieties comes with considerable trial and error.
2PH was the first Australian grower to import the Afourer Birdwood citrus variety from California. “We should have won a gold medal for being the worst Afourer grower again and again,” Pressler says. “We didn’t give up, though. We just thought: ‘How are we going to grow them?’”
They decided to try growing the Afourer in isolation, carefully managing the crop’s specific water and nutritional needs. In time, this produced a seedless fruit unique in colour, size and variety: the 2PH Afourer.
The business is producing relatively small export volumes but the owners prefer it that way. “We don’t want too much export volume; it’s about being the only ones producing a quality variety and developing a niche market,” Pressler says. “Our other key advantage is taste, purely taste. The Chinese supermarkets can’t get enough of it – they’re saying they can’t sell their other fruit but they can’t get enough of our fruit. The uniqueness is what it’s about; that’s where the demand lies.”
2PH’s seedless lemon is also in growth in food and beverage markets in Australia and around the world, he says, due to the need for a ‘good squeeze of fresh lemon juice’ without seeds dropping into drinks or over seafood dishes.
A zest for people and export relationships
In addition to producing a unique, world-class product, exporting success for 2PH has relied on perpetual investments in relationships, along with a passion for supporting people and processes. These factors combined help to guarantee the quality and consistency of the product onto supermarket shelves overseas and into the hands of the end consumer.
Pressler says 2PH takes a long-term view on export relationships. He recommends not capitalising on short-term pricing, for example, over considering the longer-term relationship. Establishing trust and a firm line of demand is important.
The other factor in 2PH’s exporting success is investment in their people and processes, ensuring the product is handled with rigour and care at each stage in the process. The business stands behind its highly consistent output: from the seed to the tree through the export process and onto the consumer’s table.
“Products have to be described accurately year in and year out,” Pressler says. “And expectations have to be met or exceeded. You must always deliver consistent quality and be committed to that quality. The benefit is that customers will continue to order from you. That’s the relationship – it’s a two-way street.”
The government's step-by-step guidelines for exporting plants and plant products and Austrade's guide to exporting fresh fruit and vegetables provide more details.