Compared to her ‘hometown’ of Shanghai, Chinese mummy blogger Tang Ling found Andrew Leslie’s Alstonville Plateau plantation absolutely idyllic.
Apart from the green produce there were other Aussie attractions on display as if purposefully supplied for the marketing adventure: Two koalas rested in the forks of Eucalypts nearby while rainforest King Parrots in their bright red and green plumage flitted alarmingly through the canopy.
Mr Leslie, who farms 3000 trees at Lynwood via Alstonville, said recent agricultural practice encouraged by the society had resulted in a more biological practice through soil amendments – 500 cubic metres of compost to cover sensitive surface feeding roots – erosion control, targeted spray programs to combat the two new pests – lace bug and Sigastus weavil – and less fertiliser more often.
“Nuts have dropped late this year as a result of a dry summer but we are halfway through harvest. Quality is good and tonnage is up.”
A biological approach to macadamia production is proving good for the trees, the environment, and product marketing with consumption on the rise in China.
Mum’s the word on good health
When it comes to marketing native tree nuts, the Australian Macadamia Society has always looked outside the box, being an early adopter of social media advertising.
Tang Ling, a mummy blogger from China who writes for her two million followers on popular parenting website Baby Tree, recently travelled to the Lismore area as a guest of the society to see for herself the green paradise where Australian macadamias are grown.
Along with her for the ride was five year old daughter Wang Chuxi, the object of her writings as a social media blogger, with the trials and tribulations of motherhood her pet subject.
The contrast between her small apartment in modern Shanghai and the quiet, spacious laneways of Lynwood on the red soil Alstonville Plateau, certainly provided some inspiration for Ms Ling’s writings.
Australian macadamia Society market development manager Lynne Ziehlke said the early adoption of social media as a way to influence consumer spending has helped the macadamia industry make significant inroads into the middle kingdom.
“China is such a big market that if our efforts are not targeted we may miss making an impact,” she said.
Ms Zielkhe said moving away from traditional stand alone advertising, whether that be print, radio or TV and into the very different social media space made for a nervous venture when the association first had a go in 2009.
“We started with Japanese bloggers at a time when nobody knew a lot about blogging. In time the move has proven very beneficial,” she said. “Through this social interaction we can push the health attributes of macadamias and by bringing bloggers here we can introduce them to the farmer. As promoters of Macadamias we have a lot of things to say and you just can’t do that through conventional advertising. Bloggers are a better way to go.
“Whereas in the past we might create a six week ad campaign across a variety of conventional media and never talk to the consumer with this approach we talk to consumers all year ’round – both through the blog and through agency people.
“Everyone is involved,” Ms Zielkhe said. “The approach is more wholistic because everything is so immediate and everyone involved in marketing needs to be able to answer questions.”
Last week Ms Ziehlke was in India trying to convince the subcontinent of the worth of Australia’s greatest nut but a 40 per cent Tarrif makes domestically grown cashews a lot more attractive. That’s a tough situation but it’s early days and Ms Zielhke is keen to see the promotion progressed, with blogging a sure way to get personal.