As prevalence of Panama TR4 disease grows in Australia resistant varieties provide welcome alternative

Little Gem bananas

Little Gem bananas

Perfection Fresh’s approach to offering more choices for growers and consumers has been highlighted in its banana category as the wider Australian industry battles the spread of Panama TR4 disease.

Whilst biosecurity measures adopted by the industry have significantly slowed its progression the soil-borne fungal disease has spread further in recent months.

Michael Simonetta, chief executive of Perfection Fresh said the disease had the potential to have a considerable and long-lasting impact on the industry, affecting production, people’s livelihoods and the communities that rely upon it. 

“In light of the recent updates regarding the continued Panama TR4 disease outbreak, we feel for the growers affected. We appreciate the challenges and the potential impact on the livelihoods of the dedicated banana farmers and workers, and the future of the banana industry,” said Simonetta.

Simonetta said Perfection has always been dedicated to identifying distinctive varieties that solve agronomic problems on-farm and align with evolving consumer needs. In this case, Havana and Little Gem bananas offer a soil-borne fungal disease Panama TR4 resistant and non-GMO alternative to growers.

“The gravity of this issue has driven us to innovate and look for potential solutions to bring new TR4-resistant varieties such as Little Gem and Havana bananas to market, offering hope of a return to viability for some of the affected growers,” Simonetta said. 

Banana category manager Chaise Pensini said Perfection was working on highlighting the unique characteristics of its offerings including its exclusive Havana variety, which is a 18-24cm long mid-sized banana that delivers a high yield compared to Lady Finger bananas and doesn’t go brown when cut.

“It’s exciting to have new options for growers and consumers in a category that hasn’t seen a lot of change for many years. As we perfect and bring these new varieties to market we plan to educate consumers on how these new bananas offer different benefits and more choice. Ultimately our goal is to deliver value through growing the entire bananas category,” said Pensini.