The Truffle Festival held every year in the Canberra Region from the beginning of June until the end of August marks the harvest of the Black Winter Truffle. This year’s festival features more than 250 individual events across the region, offering a rich variety of opportunities to taste and experience the magic of these prized gems.There are many species of Australian native truffles, but the one most prized in culinary circles is the Black Winter Truffle also known as Perigord Truffle.One can indulge in the special flavours and aromas of truffle dishes at local restaurants and cafes. Join a hunt and see for yourself how the talented dogs unearth truffles. Learn from chefs and other truffle experts at a cooking class or demonstration, or pop along to a farmers market and rustle up your own truffle dish.A range of truffle breakfasts, lunches and degustation dinners will be held at a variety of cafes, restaurants and bars throughout the region including Pod Food, Italian and Sons, Mezzalira, Hyatt Hotel Canberra, Conservatory Restaurant, Hotel Kurrajong, Vibe Hotel, Joes Bar and Muse– Food, Wine and Books.
Hong Kong has been one of the most popular destinations among Indians. Recently, Hong Kong has seen a rising interest among young, mid-career independent travellers who are looking for more undiscovered and lesser-known experiences. To lure more Indians to visit the city and get a taste of its local culture, the Hong Kong Tourism Board collaborated with Bollywood actress Yami Gautam to boost its ‘Discover Hong Kong Like A Local’ campaign in India. As a part of the collaboration, Gautam was invited to get an in-depth experience of Hong Kong’s unique and rich local culture and to become an advocate and endorser for experiences that Indian travellers can try.The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), Cathay Pacific and The Landmark, Mandarin Oriental together curated an experiential programme for Gautam. Through the programme, HKTB wants to showcase the captivating and authentic culture of Hong Kong through Yami’s eyes. Yami’s itinerary featured activities recommended by locals like visiting city attractions, local temples and monasteries, sampling street shopping and street food, going on walking tours of revamped old districts, enjoying some water sports and relaxing at local spas. Talking about her collaboration, Yami said, “I never realised how beautiful and fun Hong Kong is as a holiday destination. There is so much to explore here and it’s been absolutely thrilling to discover Hong Kong as a local would. I have truly enjoyed. The people have been so warm and welcoming and all the discoveries I’ve made from chic, charming districts to temples and monasteries, secret markets and fashion spots to delicious local food have been beyond impressive. I would love to come back to explore more of this vibrant city.”Puneet Kumar, Senior Manager, Marketing development for India region said, “Yami is a youth icon and has a huge fan following in India. We are delighted to collaborate with Yami to bring alive our new campaign “Discover Hong Kong Like a Local” to showcase Hong Kong’s local culture in neighbourhoods, unique retail and dining experiences and green outdoors. We have certainly impressed Gautam to become a fan of Hong Kong and we invite her fans to come and discover Hong Kong like Gautam on their next holiday in Hong Kong.”As a part of the programme, Yami was seen exploring districts like Old Town Central, which represents the beautiful union of eastern and western influences with ancient temples and streets alongside modern eateries and bars and Sham Shui Po, the fashion hub of Hong Kong where she will interact with local designers and get acquainted with local culture. Her other local experiences also included a ride on Aqua Luna, a visit to Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery and a tea appreciation class.
“The Cabinet has decided to exclude people coming to perform Umrah and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madinah), of the prohibition of movement outside Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. A royal decree has been prepared to this effect,” the acting Media Minister, Issam bin Saeed, said in a recent statement.It is expected that this year nearly eight million Muslims will perform Umrah in the Kingdom and the Cabinet’s move will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of Saudi Arabia by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and shopping centres.“We are looking to enrich the experience of pilgrims and facilitate their arrival,” Dr Amr Al-Maddah, Chief Planning and Strategy Officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told media. “Travelling around the Kingdom is an opportunity for pilgrims to visit cultural and tourist sites. At the same time, they will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.”With this new decision, Saudi Arabia hopes it will help towards reaching the goal of receiving 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.He added that the travellers would now be free to plan visits to other Saudi cities, tourist destinations, festivals and events, within the period of their visa validity.Al-Maddah added, “We want to make it available to everyone to enrich the experience of the pilgrims, which is one of the goals of Vision 2030.” To boost tourism and the economy, Saudi Arabia has taken the decision to allow the Umrah pilgrims to tour anywhere in the country.The Saudi Cabinet decided that the Muslims making the holy pilgrimage are to be granted the freedom to visit anywhere in the Kingdom during their stay. Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah.
A financial fraud task force cleared a final rule Tuesday that requires nonbank mortgage lenders and originators to report suspicious activity related to mortgage fraud.[IMAGE]The “”Financial Crimes Enforcement Network””:http://www.fincen.gov/ (FinCEN) said that originators and lenders will need to report any suspected fraudulent activity to the organization on an annual and quarterly basis.””Today FinCEN is closing a regulatory gap by requiring [COLUMN_BREAK]non-bank mortgage lenders and originators to develop anti-money laundering programs and file suspicious activity reports with FinCEN,”” “”James Freis””:http://www.allgov.com/Official/Freis__James, FinCEN director, said in a statement.He called the reports “”a critical source of information to law enforcement and regulatory agencies in their investigation and prosecution of mortgage fraud and a wide range of other financial crimes.”” The new rule reflects the scope of authority undertaken by the Obama administration as it pursues mortgage and financial fraud.FinCEN gave credit to the new Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, both initiatives launched by the Obama administration in recent months.The new rule will take effect two months after appearing in the Federal Register.Established by the administration in 2009, the network collaborates with more than 20 federal agencies and 94 U.S. state attorneys general to pursue criminal and civil enforcement against financial fraud. Share in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Barack Obama Housing Affordability Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Service Providers 2012-02-07 Ryan Schuette Rule Requires Nonbank Lenders, Originators to Report Fraud February 7, 2012 429 Views
Mortgage Application Volume Reverses Downward Trend Share After falling throughout May, mortgage application volume rose for the first week of June, according to the “”Mortgage Bankers Association’s””:http://mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.[IMAGE]The survey’s Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, increased 5.0 percent for the week ending June 7, MBA reported. Unadjusted, the index rose 16 percent. The previous week’s results included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.The Refinance Index was also up 5 percent compared to the previous week, though it was still 11 percent down from its level two weeks prior and 36 percent down from its May peak. The refinance share of mortgage activity was 69 percent, up from 68 percent the previous week.Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5 percent week-over-week. The unadjusted index rose 14 percent and was 6 percent higher than the same week last year.The increase in application volume came despite continued rises in rates, which analysts say contributed to “”May’s downturn””:https://themreport.com/articles/application-volume-stumbles-as-rates-recover-2013-06-05 in applications. The average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.15 percent, the highest rate since March 2012. Points increased to 0.48 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-06-12 Tory Barringer in Origination June 12, 2013 414 Views
Share Census Bureau HUD New Home Sales 2014-10-24 Tory Barringer October 24, 2014 558 Views New Home Sales Up After Major August Revision Sales of newly built, single-family homes edged up in September, but a sharp downward revision to August’s sales figure put a damper on the good news.The Commerce Department and HUD estimate that new home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 467,000 in September, according to a joint report from the agencies. September’s sales rate marks a 0.2 percent increase over August’s revised rate and a 17 percent jump above the September 2013 rate of 399,000.New home sales in August, originally reported at an annual pace of 504,000—a six-year high—were brought down dramatically in the government’s revised estimate. New homes that month are now estimated to have sold at an adjusted annual rate of 466,000.While the revision might be unwelcome, it wasn’t unexpected. In a forward-looking measure based on mortgage applications for new home purchases, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) predicted sales in September would come in at a rate of 425,000, forecasting a cut in August’s numbers.”Earlier this summer, and again last month, the first estimates from Census were significantly higher than the estimates implied from the applications data,” MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said earlier this month. “However, the revised data from Census resulted in a much closer match to MBA’s estimates, and we anticipate that will be the case going forward, given the high rate of coverage in our survey.”Economists also forecast a sales rate of 460,000 in September, indicating they expected either a massive downturn month-over-month or a drastic change in August’s revised estimate.New home sales rose last month in two census regions: the Midwest and South, which posted monthly gains of 12.3 percent to 64,000 and 2.0 percent to 261,000, respectively. Sales were flat in the Northeast at a rate of 30,000 and down 8.9 percent in the West to a rate of 112,000.Annually, sales were up in all regions, climbing nearly 20 percent in the Northeast, South, and West.The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of September was 207,000, representing a months’ supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate.The median sales price of new houses sold last month was $259,000, according to the Census and HUD, down substantially from August’s median of $286,800. The average sales price was also down, dropping more than $35,000 to $313,200. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Government, News
Share November 6, 2014 450 Views Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are set to send another $6.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury after posting a mild increase in profits for the third quarter.For its part, Fannie Mae reported net income of $3.9 billion for the third quarter, up from a profit of $3.7 billion in Q2 but down from $8.7 billion in the year-ago quarter.According to Fannie, the increase was driven primarily by lower fair value losses and an increase in revenues. Also contributing to the third-quarter boost in profits was a recently announced settlement between Goldman Sachs and the GSEs’ conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), over faulty residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).In a sour sign for the housing market, a shrinking portion of Fannie’s earnings stemmed from credit-related income—$836 million compared to $1.9 billion the prior quarter. The company said the decrease was mostly due to a decline in its benefit for credit losses as home price appreciation continues to slow.Fannie also acknowledged that a growing share of its revenues in recent years have come from increases in guaranty fees, a trend the company expects will continue as its mortgage portfolio contracts.Meanwhile, Freddie Mac reported net income of $2.1 billion for Q3, up from $1.4 billion the prior three months. The company attributed the increase to lower derivative losses (stemming from an upturn in long-term interest rates) and the same RMBS settlement that benefited Fannie.Those improvements were counterbalanced against a drop in Freddie’s provision for credit losses “driven by a slight worsening in loss severity,” the company said.As a result of their profitable quarter, Fannie says it expects to pay $4.0 billion in dividends to Treasury in December, while Freddie will pay $2.8 billion.By the end of this year, the two GSEs, which have been in conservatorship since 2008, will have returned a combined $225.5 billion to taxpayers—nearly $40 billion more than the amount the two companies were forced to draw to keep afloat in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Despite that, the GSEs’ agreement with the government stipulates they must continue to pay.That agreement has drawn the ire of the companies’ shareholders, some of whom are trying to take the government to court on claims it has robbed them of their share of the profits and kept the GSEs from being able to return to normalcy.Meanwhile, Washington continues to debate on what should happen to the two mortgage giants as policymakers work to revive private-label securitization and diminish the government’s role in the market. While there has been some support for plans to wind down the GSEs and replace them with a government corporation, those plans remain up in the air in the wake of Republicans’ takeover of the Senate. in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Secondary Market Fannie, Freddie Report Moderate Growth in Profits Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Mortgage-Backed Securities Profits 2014-11-06 Tory Barringer
in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News April 12, 2016 496 Views According to the Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) released today by Quicken Loans, homeowner optimism is continuing to outpace that of actual property appraisal values.On a national level, the Index revealed that in March, home values as determined by appraisers were actually 2.17 percent lower than what homeowners expected. That’s a wider gap than in February, when appraised value was just 1.99 lower than the homeowner’s expectation.At the regional level, the breach between the two values varies; In the West, some metros showed appraised values were actually higher than expected homeowner values. In the Midwest however, all metros showed appraisals at a much lower price than what owners hoped for.The best and worst cities for disparities between appraisal and expected homeowner value were found in San Jose, California and Philadelphia. In San Jose, appraiser values were 3.93 percent higher than homeowners expected, while in Philadelphia, they came in 3.63 percent lower.“The varying HPPI values across the country illustrates the importance of examining the market at the local level,” said Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans. “If homeowners are eyeing that new home being built across town, they could be pleasantly surprised how much their home will sell for—or in some instances their equity may not take them as far as they think—depending on what area of the country they’re in.”Today’s report from Quicken wasn’t all bad news though. The accompanying Home Value Index (HVI) actually showed that home values are on a slow but definite rise. Last month, home appraisal valuations were up 0.29 percent from February and 4.77 from the same time last year.Like the HPPI, the HVI showed some distinct differences in regional data. In the Midwest, appraised values saw a 0.69 percent drop, while the West experienced a 1.52 percent increase over the last month. All four regions of the U.S. saw increases at an annual level.“It’s not always easy for homeowners to keep their finger on the pulse of their equity,” Walters said. “This data shows homes have continued to increase in value since the depths experienced after the last recession. Those increases mean far fewer Americans have negative equity in their homes. This increases their mobility and is a positive development for all segments of the housing market.”Click here to view the full report. Appraiser, Homeowner Values Remain Disparate Appraisers Home Value Gap homeowners Quicken Loans 2016-04-12 Staff Writer Share
U.S. Home Price Gains Seemingly Unstoppable in Daily Dose, journal, News U.S. home prices continued to steadily rise across through August, according to the latest S&P Dow Jones/S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. So much so that David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that home price increases in the U.S. “appear to be unstoppable.”The indices show a 6.1 percent uptick in home prices in August, which is up from 5.9 percent in the previous month. The indices’ overall numbers coalesced with breakdowns of the 10 and 20 largest U.S. metros. The 10-City Composite was just above flat, showing annual increase of 5.3 percent, up from 5.2 percent in July. Similarly, the 20-City Composite posted a 5.9 percent year-over-year gain, up from 5.8 percent the previous month.Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Diego reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in August. Seattle led the way with a 13.2 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas (8.6 percent), and San Diego (7.8 percent). Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August 2017 versus the year ending July 2017.Month-over-month, the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite posted 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent increases. Nineteen of 20 cities reported increases in August both before and after seasonal adjustment. Atlanta, saw the seasonally adjusted monthly number slip 0.2 percent after seasonal adjustment.Blitzer said that over the last year, the consumer price index’s 2.2 percent rise was driven largely by energy costs.“Aside from oil, the only other major item with price gains close to housing was hospital services, which were up 4.6 percent,” he said.Wages climbed 3.6 percent in the year to August.“The ongoing rise in home prices poses questions of why prices are climbing and whether they will continue to outpace most of the economy,” Blitzer said. He answered with a strong one-two punch: Low mortgage rates, combined with an improving economy.“Low-interest rates raise the value of both real and financial long-lived assets,” he said. “The price gains are not simply a rebound from the financial crisis.”However, despite the apparent unstoppability of U.S. housing gains to date, Blitzer offered a caveat of caution.“Home prices will not rise forever,” he said. “Measures of affordability are beginning to slide, indicating that the pool of buyers is shrinking. The Federal Reserve is pushing short-term interest rates upward and mortgage rates are likely to follow over time, removing a key factor supporting rising home prices.” October 31, 2017 594 Views HOUSING S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices 2017-10-31 ScottMorgan1 Share
South Africa: Maluma Symposium to draw larger inte … Mexican tomato growers making false claims about a … U.S.: Record-breaking organic sales rise over $50b … You might also be interested in Following a successful trial in February, New Zealand’s Just Avocados sent the country’s first ever commercial avocado shipment to China on Sept. 18 and was shortly followed by leading exporter AVANZA with its first trial. Closer to market than its Latin American competitors but with higher labor costs and far less volume, the industry’s challenge will be to set itself apart with a high-end product, à la Zespri kiwifruit.Even though China will likely only receive 5% of Just Avocados’ volume this year, Jacob Darling of parent company Darling Group believes it will evolve to become a significant market for both volume and value in the future.”China’s been a market that Darling Group and Just Avocados have had our eyes on for a long time,” says Darling, the group’s general manager of sales and marketing.”It’s a market that we believe is still going to be challenging. We’ve got a lot of work to do we think in terms of differentiating New Zealand avocado from other origins so we can extract a premium from the marketplace.The company’s first commercial shipment to the country arrived on Sept. 18 and was received by Win-Chain Supply Chain Marketing Limited, the global sourcing center for e-commerce giant Alibaba.”At this stage we’re just looking to do one air freight shipment a week until such time as we get into sea-freight shipments,” says Darling, who adds the first sea-freight may set sail this week.Air-freight will continue thereafter, but to a lesser extent. Jacob Darling of Darling Group and Just Avocados.”Just Avocados is looking to run about 15,000 trays into the China market, and that will go from now until mid-to-late November,” he says.”The reason for doing the air freight is making sure we get all of our process systems, channels, quality, everything in the supply chain sorted out before we commit to a greater volume and therefore bigger commercial value and therefore greater risk.”It’s not even three weeks by container into Shanghai from New Zealand so that’s obviously advantageous, but we are going up against other countries that have lower costs of production than we do that have economies of scale.”A good example of this is Mexico, which was the first mover in the Chinese market and is the world’s leading exporter of the fruit, although it’s number two in China behind Chile. In 2017, these two countries’ combined avocado shipments to China were greater than New Zealand’s entire export program worldwide.As the Darling Group aims to have a 12-month supply deal for its partners, it has traded Mexican avocados in China before, as well as New Zealand and Australian citrus.”We’ve had previous experience on other commodities into the China market so we we’re well aware of the value proposition for us and for our growers,” says Darling.”I think at a high level the New Zealand avocado has significant nutritional benefits over other origins of other avocado,” he claims, although with some reluctance to make specific health claims as studies into the issue are ongoing. “I think the taste profile for the New Zealand avocado due to high maturities and other internal factors give it an advantage, and cosmetically as well it’s a very good-looking avocado.”NZ Avocado CEO Jen Scoular adds the industry is very excited about having access to China and the fact the first commercial shipments have arrived. “Obviously that’s a huge opportunity and a huge challenge,” she says.”It’s a market obviously that with the population has huge potential, and it’s also a huge challenge in ensuring the information and investment into the market is made. “Although demand is increasing significantly, it’s from a very low base and it’s important that all avocados going into China are met with investment into the market in terms of marketing and the supply chain to make sure consumers are getting really good avocados.”AVANZA to advance in China with large-sized fruitA few days after Just Avocados’ product hit the market, AVANZA sent its first air-freight trial to Shanghai. The company’s marketing and communications manager Steve Trickett expects the first commercial sea-freight shipment to arrive within a few weeks.AVANZA represents around 65% of New Zealand’s avocado exports, and is a tie-up between leading exporters Southern Produce and Primor.”We’re not commercially selling it [the recent arrival]. We’re using it effectively as some commercial teaser fruit with some of the commercial chains and restaurants and cafés and chefs,” says Trickett, who incidentally used to be a shareholder at Just Avocados and was its marketing director.”We’ll be doing commercial shipments by sea and our first arrivals will be around Oct. 20, and that’s when we’ll really kick into gear with in-store activity and strongly promoting the product, so the air-freight product is probably not sustainable. Campaigns will also involve WeChat, China’s multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app.”We’ll do about 2% of our pool into mainland China this year and just a little test run into Taiwan for the first time,” he says.The company expects to send 50,000 trays of avocados to the Chinese mainland, and while that’s a small percentage it’s still greater than the 30,000 trays sent to India – a market Trickett says has doubled its intake of AVANZA’s fruit.”As New Zealand does in a number of other products, we want to be in that high-end, higher-priced, there for a short time category. Whereas the Mexicans and the Chileans will be there for months and months, we’ll just be there for a bit of a cameo performance if you like and defend our price,” he says. Trickett says New Zealand will benefit from its larger-sized fruit.”Ours is a standard single-layer tray, 5.5kg net, and the number of pieces per tray in the New Zealand or AVANZA program we’re running are with 16, 18 and 20,” he says. “So that’s quite large fruit, whereas the others will be 24s as mediums, but mostly 30s and even 35s. We’ve heard that there might be even smaller fruit than that from Chile going in.”Peru has been going in this season quite aggressively with their volume, and fortunately for us they are largely counter-seasonal to New Zealand so they haven’t really knocked us around.”However, he is curious to see whether Peru’s aggressive pricing could impact on the New Zealand fruit that follows it.”It will be interesting to see whether that carries over and affects what we’re trying to achieve,” he says.”We believe that with our New Zealand story, the AVANZA story and what sits behind the branding, and the in-market investment we’re going to have in terms of in-store tastings and demonstrations and some other activation activities, we’ll be able to defend our price premium. “But to be honest it’s yet to be proven, so it’ll be an interesting season for us.”Emulating Zespri through Goodfarmer partnershipHe says the company has been very selective in seeking out its partner, and as volumes are relatively short the mainland China deal will be limited to the Shanghai area for the next two or three seasons.”We’ve chosen a company called Goodfarmer which happens to be Zespri’s agent. So you’ve got that cross-pollination of that premium-branded New Zealand product, and the consumer in China has got a pretty favorable view of New Zealand as a point of origin for dairy products, kiwifruit, any number of things,” says Trickett. U.S.: EPA decides not to ban chlorpyrifos … “We’re very much levering off that, and of course it plays well back on New Zealand where 60 odd percent of our growers happen to be Zespri kiwifruit growers as well as avocado growers, so they will be quite comfortable in us choosing Goodfarmer.”And Goodfarmer is probably Zespri’s single largest customer globally now. They’ve got a pretty good track record of being able to extract a premium out of market so that supported our rationale for going with them.”He says that through its partner AVANZA will be supplying four offline retailers in China, while in a more limited way it will be selling fruit online .”In that case we’re running with JD.com and looking at a small program with Fruitday,” he says.From a fruit quality perspective, he adds Goodfarmer has constructed a purpose-built avocado ripening room. Trickett and AVANZA’s technical experts plan to spend a week with their partners in Shanghai to go through the details of optimal ripening.”They have got some experience in it because they’ve handled South American fruit in the past, and they’re going to be focused more on the New Zealand piece in the immediate term and expand that program all over time,” he says.”They’ve got these 40-pallet stores. One can take 40 pallets for example and it’s got this new technique where you can put a cover over and even just ripen one pallet if you want to, or you can do 20. “It’s quite cool what they’ve got there. They’ve made quite an investment.”A new brand for China: “Chao niu guo”Trickett highlights AVANZA fruit will also carry a new Chinese market-focused brand in the Chinese market – “Chao niu guo”, which he says translates as “next-level cool” or “the super one” as a more literal interpretation.The word is also very similar to the Mandarin word for avocado, which is “niu you guo”. The brand was the idea of a New Zealand expat who lives in Shanghai, Jerry Clode of Resonance China.Clode and his team did a lot of research before deciding on the brand, having paid particular attention understand consumer behaviours and attitudes toward avocados, particularly from a group known as “supermums”.”These are mums who are very independent in their own right and who are very focused on their children and spend a lot of money on fresh produce, not really having any price sensitivity in that area,” says Clode.The research found many mothers in this consumer group disliked the taste and consistency of avocado after trying it the first time, yet they still persevered and incorporated it into their families’ diets as they believed avocados had nutritional benefits.”One thing we noticed was that avocado was a very important part of middle class status,” says Clode.”When we went to people’s homes, they had avocado on display in their fruit bowls. It’s important in symbolising modern health, wealth and family.”We were able to observe interesting cues which we could build into a brand story for AVANZA, with the objective of positioning it as the most recognised and trusted New Zealand avocado brand in China.”Production outlook and other export marketsScoular of New Zealand’s avocado growers’ association says the crop is medium-sized this year in terms of volume.”We had a very high year two years ago and a low year last year, so we’ve got 40% more volume than the previous year but it’s still only a medium season for us,” she says.”But the season is going very well. We started export in August.”We are pretty much having to manage the supply we’ve got to meet our customers’ needs and in all markets we are seeing a real demand for avocados from New Zealand, so from that perspective it’s terrific.”Australia has historically received the lion’s share of New Zealand’s avocado exports, and in the 2017 calendar year the neighbors across the Tasman took up more than 85% of the $87 million in shipments. But good progress has been made in emerging avocado markets in Asia in recent years.”We always make sure we are increasing the visibility about avocados and information about avocados,” says Scoular.”We’ve now got digital platforms in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, and we are ensuring we are putting good investment into those markets.”Trickett says his company and the industry are looking at 3.5 million trays of fruit this season.”We’re mindful that we don’t want to be dependent on the Australian market, and that’s why we continue to dedicate 20% of what we do to developing markets,” says Trickett of AVANZA.The industry’s second-largest market is South Korea, which imported $4 million worth of New Zealand avocados last year. While that may not sound like much, it is worth noting the market was almost non-existent a decade ago and has doubled since 2014.”We will support strongly a good step-up in our volume into Korea which is now our single largest market in Asia and continues to rapidly grow – it’s still paying really good money even with that growth from all countries supplying that market. “It’s showing exponential growth and strong value, so it’s one of our priorities within Asia this year.”He also expects modest volumes into Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India, while the brakes have been put on some markets like Japan.”Japan we’ll still support, but that’s a lower returning market compared to some of the Asian markets,” Trickett says.The executive adds that around 1,000 hectares of new plantings have been put in the ground in the mid-to-far north of New Zealand, between Tapora and Whangarei.”That’s going to have a positive contribution – that’s just starting to come into production now but the next three to five years those are going to be coming on-stream,” he says.However, more supply will also be needed just to “feed the Australian machine” with demand growing by around 700,000 trays a year. But in terms of business across the Tasman in 2018-19, Trickett expects a normal year.”We’re just very focused on meeting our retail program commitments which are pretty significant, and we do a certain amount with wholesale. But it’s business as usual in Australia, just ensuring we keep that volume and meet our volume requirements,” he says.Trickett also notes developments in reducing the degree of alternate or biennial bearing in New Zealand, which because of its cooler climate tends to have more pronounced ups and downs from one season to the next. “But what we are finding is that the further north you go, therefore where it’s a little warmer and more stable in terms of climate, you don’t get those wild fluctuations, and the soil conditions are a little different,” he mentions.”One thing that I hear from the technical guys when I go to field days is they say we’re getting better at understanding canopy management and the need to prune more regularly than what we used to going back five, 10 or 15 years, and that seems to be flattening out the production.”Headline photo: Shutterstock October 01 , 2018
australiaMantra Group Human Resources Director Magazine (HRD) has released the results of its annual ‘Employer of Choice’ survey that uniquely rates companies from the perspective of their employees, assesses a wide range of key areas from remuneration satisfaction through to leadership effectiveness, and focuses on team engagement …… and Mantra Group has been awarded a Gold Medal in recognition of its status as one of Australia’s leading employers!Mantra Group Executive Director Human Resources Cherie McGill said the award win is the ultimate salute from the Group’s loyal and highly engaged team members.“They’re extremely proud of who they work for, and we’re extremely honoured to have them as part of our team.“The win is great validation of our team’s passion and hard work, and testament to our recent employee engagement score of 86%, and ‘lower than industry’ staff turnover.”Mantra Group HR TeamMantra Group also finished strongly in a number of other sub-categories such as learning and development, career progression, diversity and inclusion. “We’re a vibrant, friendly and fun workplace, offering a wide variety of training and development opportunities to team members at every level,” said Ms McGill.Companies vying for this year’s title of Employer of Choice were from a range of industries from banking to health, hospitality, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, professional services and more.
agentseventsSouth African TourismThe Lion King Wildlife Safari recently partnered with South African Tourism for a series of exclusive cinema screenings of The Lion King to select travel consultants in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The Swahili words, ‘Hakuna Matata’, loosely translates to no worries, and travel consultants who attended the screening of The Lion King had “no worries” as they enjoyed pre theatre canapes and beverages prior to relaxing in generous platinum class seats with the essential movie snacks of popcorn and ice cream to watch the remake of the classic movie with its memorable wildlife characters and iconic African landscapes.
Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The problems started Sunday in the first half in Santa Clara. The website FootballZebras.com has a thorough description of what transpired:Things started to unravel for the crew in Santa Clara, Calif., as the 49ers were caught with 13 players on the field. Because there was a quick snap, four officials threw their flags at the completion of the down. (The referee, umpire, head linesman, and line judge all have the duty to count offensive players.) Morelli enforced this as a dead-ball foul, but in reality, this is retroactive to the snap, because the crew can clearly establish the personnel that were on the field at the snap. Therefore, it is (a) 5 yards and repeat the down, or (b) decline the foul and take the result of the play. The crew enforced this from the dead-ball spot and counted the down. (While 12-in-the-huddle can be called between downs, it may only be called against the offense.)Once the next snap occurs, that misapplication can’t be corrected.Shortly thereafter, there was a confusion on the number of the down that lead to an excruciating six-minute delay to rectify. At one point, Morelli announced “third down,” before eventually settling on second down. During the process, a Fox Sports cameraman zoomed into the log maintained by the down-box operator.“It was just embarrassing,” said one officiating source.The problems continued later in the half when the crew botched the interpretation of an illegal-touching penalty on Cardinals receiver John Brown. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories “The officials were struggling, mightily,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said following the game. “I mean, they can’t count to three.“I got so many explanations, I got tired of them, because they were just running out of them. We complete a pass for a first down. I’m not sure the spot was correct so we hurry up and run the ball and they’ve got 13 guys on the field. We accept the penalty — that’s first-and-5. They gave us five yards after the play, which was wrong, and made it 2nd-and-3. That’s not what we accepted and that was the whole problem. It was a FUBAR on their part. They can try to explain it. They’re wrong.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Nothing like hiding a problem.Anybody who watched the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers 19-13 on Sunday was frustrated by the officiating crew.Referee Pete Morelli and the rest of his crew struggled mightily in the game. As a result, the NFL has removed Morelli’s crew from Sunday Night Football duty in Week 13. Instead of officiating the high-profile, nationally-televised game between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, Morelli and Co. will work a different game, according to Pro Football Talk. 0 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact On the run, the 318-pound lineman scooped the ball off the grass and rumbled for a 36-yard score — not before laying a stiff-arm and pancaking Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy to the ground.By putting the Cardinals ahead 31-0, Redding became the 18th Cardinal to score a touchdown this season, which is the most for any NFL team. It was the 14th defensive touchdown for the Cardinals since head coach Bruce Arians took over, the most during that span.Redding wasn’t even done there.This is (we think) the Ric Flair strut.Get it, Cory pic.twitter.com/ThzgmXmmll— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 27, 2015If you recall, Redding was inches from scoring a touchdown on an interception return against the Detroit Lions back on Oct. 11. He went 30 yards the other way but was tripped just short of the end zone by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. – / 36 Top Stories The Cardinals were getting plenty of pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday and they finished a 38-8 victory with nine sacks, the most in a single game since they recorded 10 during the 1986 season.The highlight of that success came in the middle of the fourth quarter.Arizona’s Kareem Martin got a solid hit and forced a fumble on Rodgers, and defensive tackle Cory Redding knew exactly what to do with the loose ball. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Aaron Rodgers sacked again, fumbles, Cory Redding returns it for the TD. pic.twitter.com/7048vIOP7D— MarcusD (@_MarcusD_) December 27, 2015 Comments Share
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Tyrann Mathieu watches during the Arizona Cardinals mini-camp on June 8, 2016. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports) Top Stories He added a forced fumble and a sack. Comments Share He’s not called the Honey Badger without reason.While Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu embodies the spirit of the honey badger, he also plays with the cleverness of the animal. Mathieu’s smarts help him to play multiple positions and in different coverages, but the combination of wit and ferocity is the key to his adaptability.It’s why ESPN Insider’s Matt Bowen calls Mathieu the most versatile defender in the entire NFL. The most versatile defender in the NFL, Mathieu lines up all over the Cardinals’ secondary. With his range, coverage ability, ball skills and toughness, Mathieu can play outside of the numbers, roll down over the slot or patrol the deep middle of the field. Oh, and he can blitz, too. He’s going to get dirty and make plays versus the big boys. He can do it all for the Arizona defense. And I absolutely love his tape: tons of production from a variety of positions and coverage schemes in the secondary. You want to play matchups? Then this is your guy. Mathieu is the Swiss army knife every coach in the league is looking for.Mathieu can play cornerback, safety and nickelback. For that reason, his current contract negotiations with the Cardinals as he seeks a hefty extension have been complicated.In the last year of a four-year rookie deal, Mathieu wants to make the money as a top-tier NFL cornerback. But seeing as he’s utilized as a safety — they are generally paid less — Arizona may not be willing to open the checkbook to his likely.Before tearing his ACL last season in Week 15, Mathieu compiled 89 tackles (second-best on the Cardinals) and co-led the team with five interceptions. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires
Go back to the e-newsletterGuests can embark on a rejuvenating journey by booking the new Spa Retreat accommodation package at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech. Within the hotel’s peaceful oasis setting, guests can relax and reconnect by enjoying a wellness programme that includes personal training, collective yoga classes and personalised massages designed to ease mind, body and spirit.A sanctuary of wellbeing, the 1800-metre-square Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech features six treatment rooms, including two suites, each with their own private garden. Only a few minutes by car from the Medina, Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech offers guests serenity, Moroccan hospitality and the best of Oriental service away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Surrounded by 20 hectares of lush gardens, the luxurious Berber and Arab-Andalucian inspired villas and suites with their tranquil pools and shaded outdoor areas are ideal private retreats.Valid all year round for minimum four nights stay, the Spa Retreat package is priced from EUR 865 per night based on single occupancy in Mandarin Pool Villa category, and includes:Two sessions of personal training (60 minutes)Three collective yoga classesOne Discovery Hammam (60 minutes)One body wrap (30 minutes): Revive body wrap or Rose Petal body wrapTwo personalised massages (60 minutes): Therapeutic Argan signature massage or Oriental Essence massageOne oxygen facial treatment by Linda Meredith (90 minutes)Unlimited use of spa facilities: hammam, indoor swimming pool, fitness and wellness centreFull daily buffet breakfast served in our restaurantHigh speed internet accessRound trip transfer from Marrakech Menara AirportFast track through the airportMandarin Oriental, Marrakech is set among 20 hectares of landscaped gardens filled with the scent of 100,000 roses, with the snow-capped Atlas Mountains providing a stunning backdrop. Located just 10 minutes’ drive from the heart of the city and the historic Medina, the hotel offers 54 private villas inspired by Berber and Andalusian-Arabic influences, all with secluded walled gardens, swimming pools and hot tubs, extensive areas for sunbathing and shaded alfresco dining. A further nine spectacular suites, seven with their own rooftop plunge pool, feature panoramic vistas of the gardens and the surrounding countryside. There are a variety of exceptional restaurants and bars, and a world-class spa offering the Group’s renowned signature treatments as well as treatments inspired by Moroccan traditions.Go back to the e-newsletter
Award-winning travel brands APT, Travelmarvel and Botanica World Discoveries will be strengthened by the creation of an overarching corporate brand.A new brand, APT Travel Group, is now the corporate face of the family-owned Australian business, which will celebrate its 90th birthday in 2017.Luxury tour and cruise operator APT, premium tour and cruise operator Travelmarvel, and specialist operator Botanica World Discoveries will each retain their separate identities but benefit from the endorsement of this umbrella brand.Commenting on the new corporate branding, Executive General Manager Global Marketing & Sales Debra Fox said: “For a long time now, APT Travel Group has been bigger than the sum of its parts. By giving this corporate aspect of our business a more visible and defined presence we will bring clarity to our brand portfolio.“The APT Travel Group will have the ability to speak as one to the industry, while our brands continue to address their specific customer segments, both within the industry and among consumers. The new branding is also reflective of our business structure, which shares services at some levels.”Proudly owned by the McGeary family, APT Travel Group is one the world’s most awarded tour and cruise operators.The new identity is supported by a new website, www.apttravelgroup.com which will be the touchpoint for partners and suppliers looking to connect with the group as a whole.
Related6 summer steals: exotic getaways from Qatar Airways6 summer steals: exotic getaways from Qatar Airways6 exotic destinations to kick-off your 2019 travelsAs far as we’re concerned, there’s no better way to ring in the new year than by jetting off to an epic destination, and no time like the present to start planning those early 2019 travels. From pristine beaches to bustling metropolises, these seven places are some of the most…Spring Scorchers: hot deals from EtihadSpring Scorchers: hot deals from Etihad 1. Dubai from £310With year-round sunshine, Dubai is as much a beach destination as a ritzy, glitzy place to flaunt your bling. Yes, there are the super-sized shopping malls and stupendous hotels. The famous Burj Al Arab Hotel provides a stunning backdrop for Jumeriah beach – a 3km-long strip of sand with warm, shallow water – which is absolutely ideal for families.2. Bangkok, Thailand from £447Beguiling Bangkok is an exciting city of contrast, welcoming you with gleaming skyscrapers and luxury hotels as well as historic temples. Visit the floating markets, ride the famous tuk-tuks, explore the city’s intoxicating nightlife, experience the excitement of a Muay Thai boxing match or go bargain hunting in the big malls.3. Goa, India from £463Once the preserve of hippies in search of the good life, the secret is out and the sunshine state of Goa now draws many Brits to its tropical paradise. It is easy to do little but lounge on the beach – two crackers are Cola Beach, near Palolem, and Polem Beach in the far south – or in a beach bar with a cool Kingfisher.4. Colombo, Sri Lanka from £420Tropical beaches, indigo-blue sea, cloud-wrapped mountains, waterfalls, tea plantations and palm trees wafting in the breeze… Sounds ok, doesn’t it? Colombo is the exciting hub of the enchanting island of Sri Lanka, where you feast on seafood, visit an elephant orphanage, and live like a king for under £25 a day. 5. Melbourne, Australia from £650Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers sit alongside opulent theatres and galleries, infused with green spaces like Royal Park and Fitzroy Gardens. If going out on the town rather than chilling out in the park is your thing, hit up St Kilda for restaurants, bars and nightlife.6. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from £505‘The new Thailand’ has been one of 2012’s hottest destinations, helped by new direct flights from the UK, and a near 7% rise in the value of the pound against the Vietnamese Dong. Vietnam is a great budget alternative to traditional SE Asian backpacker choice: Thailand. It’s still off the beaten tourist track, so get there before the rush.7. The Seychelles from £547The Seychelles is an island paradise comprised of 115 islands scattered over one million square kilometres, offering immaculate white-sand beaches, lush, tropical forests and spectacular diving spots. You don’t have to be on your honeymoon to go here, but it would surely go down well if you were to suggest it!Get exciting flight deals to these and many more destinations with Qatar Airways. Make last-minute plans for this summer, or plan ahead with special offers available for flights until March 2013.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map
by Sandy Cohen, The Associated Press Posted Dec 6, 2017 12:45 pm PDT Last Updated Dec 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Isla Fisher arrives at The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Breakfast at Milk Studios on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) College student brings Hollywood stars to tears at breakfast LOS ANGELES, Calif. – It wasn’t Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lawrence who got the most rousing applause at the Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast on Wednesday. It was a college freshman named Carla Arellano.The Loyola Marymount University student received a standing ovation and brought a room of Hollywood heavyweights to tears as she accepted a full-ride scholarship from “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot.“All I can think about right now are all the papers I have to write for my finals,” Arellano said, alternately laughing and crying.The 26th annual Women in Entertainment breakfast celebrating the trade publication’s yearly Power 100 ranking of women in the entertainment business included presentations of $1 million in college scholarships to girls from underrepresented communities in Los Angeles.Arellano was surprised by the gift. Gadot said the aspiring screenwriter would have had to quit her studies had she not received the $250,000 scholarship, which was funded by Warner Bros.Arellano thanked her parents and her mentors through tears before closing with a quote from Frida Kahlo, which she recited in Spanish and English.“Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?” she said.Her emotional speech left Gadot and fellow presenter Justin Timberlake teary eyed, along with A-list guests including Shonda Rhimes, Emmy Rossum, Bryce Dallas Howard and Glenn Close.“This is maybe the most moving breakfast we’ve ever had,” said Sherry Lansing, who presented her namesake Leadership Award to Lawrence.Lansing highlighted Lawrence’s support for Planned Parenthood, her outspokenness on gender pay disparity and her recent $2 million donation to establish a cardiac intensive care unit for children in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.“I believe that because of Jennifer, young people will view philanthropy and giving back as just a natural part of their lives,” Lansing said.Lawrence spoke about the welfare of women worldwide, saying that women across the globe still make 77 cents to men’s dollar and that one third of all women experience violence or sexual violence in their lifetimes.The Oscar-winner commended the women who’ve spoken out against adversity in entertainment and other industries.“It’s not easy to speak out,” Lawrence said. “It’s not easy to face criticism on a global scale. But the fact is I’ve been given a platform, and I feel that if I don’t use it, I don’t deserve it.”The actress was characteristically unguarded as she gave her acceptance speech, at one point commenting on how she was holding her award incorrectly and later admitting that she wasn’t sure when to clap when speaking from the stage.Jolie, who gave the keynote address, also spoke about the plight of women around the world, imploring guests at the breakfast to appreciate what it means to be artists who can express themselves.“Art influences, it captures the imagination, it challenges orthodoxy,” Jolie said. “And societies where women are denied freedom of expression, those societies are being shaped without the voice and influence and wisdom of women. That is why I’m so grateful to be a part of this community.”Other speakers Wednesday included Rhimes, who served as guest editor for the Power 100 issue, and Sarah Silverman, who opened the program at Milk Studios.Sony executive Amy Pascal had been slated to receive the Equity in Entertainment Award presented by Meryl Streep, but street and freeway closures caused by Los Angeles wildfires prevented the two women from attending.___Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – He might have callously killed his father Han Solo, but like all well-written “bad guys,” Kylo Ren is the hero of his own Star Wars story.“He is someone who doesn’t think of himself as evil, but thinks of himself as right,” says Adam Driver, who reprises his role as the conflicted Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”“It’s definitely more exciting to play because I don’t think I know what pure evil is, nor does that seem to be something that sustains itself or is interesting to watch,” Driver says. “Watching people who feel kind of morally justified to behave the way they do is in a way more unpredictable and dangerous because there’s nothing that they won’t do to accomplish their mission because they feel empowered in being right.”Driver is more guarded than most about revealing anything about “The Last Jedi,” which hits theatres Friday, or even discussing what Kylo Ren was thinking when he killed Han, or when he battled Rey at the very end of the “The Force Awakens.”“I don’t think I can say what he saw (in Rey) but there is something familiar that he sees that hopefully he wrestles with in ‘The Last Jedi,’” Driver says. “There is something about thinking you’re on a singular journey and then kind of having your faith questioned by something new.”The 34-year-old actor, who had previously been best known for his role on HBO’s “Girls,” says his anonymity has mostly gone away since joining the Star Wars galaxy but that it’s ok.“Sometimes going places just requires more planning. But the scale of those movies, because they’re so multi-generational, or cross generational, the amount of people who come up to you and recognize you is kind of unpredictable,” he says. “But the kid part of it is for me the most fun: Seeing kids, or people bringing their kids or supplying their kids with lightsabers. I love that part. But they’re usually confused, like “Why is Kylo Ren wearing a jogging suit?”The kids who are especially taken with Kylo give him slight pause, though.“I worry about them,” Driver laughs. “Especially if they’re with their father.”___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr by Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press Posted Dec 13, 2017 9:32 am PDT Last Updated Dec 13, 2017 at 10:00 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Driver says Kylo Ren isn’t evil, he just thinks he’s right FILE – This Dec. 14, 2016 file photo shows actor Adam Driver posing for a portrait in New York. Driver, 34, reprises his role as the conflicted Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” out Friday. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File)