Best of Hirosaki: Global Project Groups share priorities

ILPA group photo hirosaki

More used to connecting via late-night or early-morning teleconferences or email, a highlight of IPLA was the chance for PINK LADY® Global Project Groups to come together in-person and agree priorities for the coming year.

Presenting to the Global SteerCo, Global Project Groups highlighted a breath of issues and initiatives, sparking constructive discussions from which to build on.

The Groups will next come together in-person at Berlin at Fruit Logistica in February 2020.

Highlights from each of the Group’s Hirosaki meetings is below:

Risk and Crisis Management

The Risk and Crisis Management Project Global Group was established to identify and mitigate risks to the PINK LADY® network and its reputation. The ability to identify and manage issues early is critical to any organisation or network, particularly one that spans the world.

The area of focus for the working group have been to refine and develop our Risk Register. This register identifies and prioritise all current risks that the PINK LADY® network faces.

So far, we have identified and prioritised 20 potential risks across the network. These risks fall under five key areas:

  1. food safety and quality;
  2. intellectual property;
  3. reputation management;
  4. trade and political unrest; and
  5. labour

Specific areas of focus include the need for continual improvement of our Crisis Management Program, further steps to protect our intellectual property, and the continued focus on the management of pesticides.

Our next steps will be to develop and implement individual action plans that will reduce or mitigate these risks.


The primary objectives for the global legal group include:

  • Protection of the brand
  • The early identification and response to legal risks
  • The development of global legal policies
  • Clear communication and education about the legal issues affecting the business

The team has a number of tools that it uses to protect the brand.  We rely on the worldwide watch service to alert us to applications of trade marks which are similar or identical to the PINK LADY® trade mark.  A recent addition to this service is that we now receive reports of any heart shaped logo registered for fresh fruit

Other ways we protect the brand include training customs officials to identify counterfeit fruit.   We also rely on market surveillance and auditing and in China we monitor online sales channels for any evidence of misuse of the PINK LADY® trade mark.  The team has undertaken a trade mark gap analysis to check that we have sufficient coverage in our key markets.

We also discussed licensing at the conference and the recommendation from the global steerco that we adopt longer duration licences and simplify them so that obligations are clear and easy to understand.  The team is aware that communication about any upcoming changes to licences needs to be circulated to the network as soon as possible.  And the rationale for any changes must be explained so there is a broad understanding of the reasons for the changes.

The team has collated a record of all manufactured product licences which cover multiple jurisdictions, so that we are across the current licensing structure for goods like sparkling apple juice and dried apple snacks.

The team’s remit also includes education and we aim to build our legal capacity by developing legal policies and strategies.  For a wider audience, the team publishes an article every quarter in the pink lady global newsletter on topical legal issues.

We will continue to monitor publications and marketing materials to check that the PINK LADY® brand is not being used in a descriptive way in association with pink apples or the colour pink.  We also need to educate the network of the significance of this issue so that the brand does not become a generic term for pink apples.

There are other general legal issues which become a focus of the team either due to changing business priorities or new legal requirements.  With a renewed focus on China and the Asian markets the team will continue to work to stop the production, export and sale of illegal Chinese fruit.

Data and Market Intelligence

Data management is always a complex exercise and a source of great discussion: its very nature creates great debate and contradiction and is a pain for those who have to generate the data in a timely and relevant fashion etc. But in a society driven by information, when data is not available, everyone is lost!

The PINK LADY® business is no different.

In a growing business that represents more than 325,000 tons of product sold in 2019 and over 210 licensees engaged in the distribution of the brand worldwide, it is imperative that we have a method to collect and analyse data from licensed exporters and importers, and to develop appropriate dashboards in order to monitor the business and manage our brand investments.

This was the preliminary task in 2019 of the Data and Market Intelligence Global Working Group (Data & MI GWG).

The first fundamental constraint is to develop data systems that are fully respectful of international and national regulations: respect of privacy on individual data, respect of confidentiality on commercial activities, respect of anti-competition obligations.

Then, in order to develop a global data system, the preliminary task was to collect, from licensees, individual data that are useful for driving the business, but easily available from stakeholders without creating complexity in their administration and reporting activities.

There were three areas of investigation:

  1. Better understanding the accurate planting situation and trends to better predict he potential supply,
  2. Evaluation of the global market opportunities and setting long term objectives to drive marketing investments,
  3. Developing a regular export / import / sales data collection system to develop appropriate dashboard templates to monitor the activity on daily base during the season.

Collection of export, import and sales data has been in place since the PINK LADY® business started as part of any licensee’s obligation. Our task now is to harmonize the data collected and frequency of collection, to centralise these into a single data system, and to develop a comprehensive and useful dashboard. To do this we must collect accurate:

  • export data from export territories to destination markets (volumes, destination and consignee) should be reported on a monthly base, both for branded PINK LADY® and unbranded Cripps Pink (and mutations) apples; and
  • export data into new markets “Tier 1 markets to be reported on a weekly basis (to fine tune the management of arrivals in the relevant countries and promotional programs); and
  • have good insights and market intelligence from the Master Licensees in those territories/markets.

The centralization of the data collection is organized by Master Licensees in each territory and then aggregated on a global level by APAL. This ensures confidentiality.

Then, having agreed on the management of in-season data, it is the role of the team to address the future through forecasting.


A global survey of the current Cripps Pink and authorized Cripps Pink Mutations planting and future trends shows that by 2025:

  • The potential of PINK LADY® quality apples traded by APAL licensees internationally could grow to over 500,000 tons,
  • Europe will represent just over 50% of the supply, and the remaining supply from Southern Hemisphere countries will be dominated by Chile (circa 25%), South Africa (11%) and New Zealand (9%), and
  • The transition from the original Cripps Pink variety to highly colored mutations will occur at different timing, determined by grower plantings


Recent global market surveys illustrate that this potential supply of PINK LADY® apples can be absorbed by a diversification of sales in new and emerging markets, coupled with growth from Europe and UK over this period.

Developing alternative markets is clearly a necessity. But correctly monitoring the evolution of Europe & UK markets, where pressure on the apple segment and competition within the category will increase, is critical as well.

This is why this global supply & demand survey and the Data and Market Intelligence Team provides excellent data and indicators to help us all set clear objectives for market development and investments in the brand. This is why also, correct management of accurate data is so critical to run the business efficiently on a global scale, for the sustainability of the model and the long term interest of all stakeholders.

Global Brand

To ensure every consumer has the same high-quality Pink Lady experience every day, wherever they are in the world, the global brand team presented a simplified set of core objectives aimed at sharpening our focus on global consistency.

We identified more strategic shared planning, improved insights and consumer data management processes to more effectively direct and extend our activities. This includes in-depth analysis of our current and potential global brand initiatives and sponsorships, including The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year.

As the world’s leading fresh produce brand we agreed that being ahead of the curve on sustainability projects is important for meeting customer expectations and agreed a series of initiatives in this space.

Finally, we committed to invest in capacity building and professional development so our team can continually bring best practice ideas and processes to a wider number of key markets.

Within these areas, responsibilities and milestones were agreed for the coming 12 months, with support from the Global SteerCo for our strategic direction, project progress and for increased collaboration as a global team.

Global Quality and Technical

Equipped with supply chain expertise, the Global Quality and Technical Group is drawn from key production territories: Australia, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Europe.

Activities of the Group cover a large scope such as food safety, quality specifications and management, orchard best practices, short-and long-term storage management.

Updating and developing quality and packaging documents was the team’s first priority. This included work to standardise product assessments, and develop answers in case of non-compliance.

Over the next few months, the Group will focus on proposals for description/definition of the defects and appropriate borderlines. Technical tools (e.g. New pictures for colour and internal browning comparison and identification) will be updated for easier management at the packing station.

Food safety and notably residues were also discussed in the light of brand responsibility, as well as consumers’ and societal expectations. Input was sought from the Crisis and Risk Management Group and specific recommendations will be released later on.

Specific work on internal browning prevention will continue in various countries and is supported by technical information sharing between the territories.

Pink Lady® apples

About the Author:

Pink Lady® is recognised as #1 apple brand in the world and is owned by Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL).