THE Australian Melon Association (AMA) has vowed it will win back consumer confidence after NSW rockmelons were blamed for recent listeria outbreaks.
The industry's peak body for all melons has been working to maintain the flow of information to wholesalers and retailers concerning the process during a NSW Food Authority investigation into the outbreak.
The AMA will meet with major retailers, wholesalers and Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) in Sydney today to determine the best way to restart the category and regain the confidence of the consumer.
The NSW rockmelon grower's identity has remained undisclosed. The association has urged other growers to "keep the confidence of the supply chain".
It has also instructed growers to direct any media enquiries to the AMA so the industry can maintain "one message".
In a statement, AMA industry development manager, Dianne Fullelove, said the issue had severely impacted the entire industry.
- More cases of rockmelon listeria emerge; industry working with grower
- NSW Health defends rockmelon actions
- 10 diagnosed with listeria during outbreak in NSW
"We estimate that sales have plummeted 80-90 per cent and there is possible resistance from consumers to other types of melons as well," Ms Fullelove said.
"This will not be an easy task and will not happen in a short timeframe. We can use the melon levy to undertake a range of tasks, however the levy is a research and development levy and not a marketing levy, so we do have constraints on what the funds can be used for.
"However, we do have a group of retail partners and seed companies who are very supportive of the melon industry and want to play their part in the kick-start process."
"We must maintain a united position as an industry. Divided we fall."
To help other growers who are not implicated in this issue, the AMA has created an information webpage on the melon industry website that provides a source of evidence to help growers negotiating sales.