Victorian farmer and Managing Director of Berry Sensation®, Barry Richards has built his company through importing strawberries from an overseas breeder. He believes the new kinds of berries have helped his business to stand out, giving him a point of difference.
A PBR was granted on 17 August 2020 for the MYAG-HB variety, known as Blush strawberries. The white-coloured strawberries are extra sweet and quite noticeable compared to normal red berries. Another variety, MYAG-2AD (called Desire), is a sweet red strawberry that is unique for its continuous cropping, which enables Barry to maintain his supply chain throughout the year.
The process of applying for a PBR was new to Barry and his team when they started. They took their time to find out all about it and found the PBR staff to be very helpful.
Once he understood the benefits, Barry recognised that it was worth going through the process to secure the rights he needed. As he put it: ‘Because you are protecting a product, you’ve got to expect them to be thorough and take a little bit of time.’
The value of PBR
It takes years to breed new plant varieties. It also takes a long time to import new plants into Australia.
Imported plants must come through post-entry quarantine, which is essential to ensure the plant material is free of pests and diseases. Once released, each new variety goes through a testing regime that allows the best candidates to be selected for further development.
The extensive investment that goes into developing the new varieties makes it well worthwhile to secure PBR. Without this protection, others could get hold of his strawberries and propagate the variety themselves. Having the rights to his varieties means that Barry can reproduce and sell them and prevent others from doing so. This ensures his unique strawberries keep their competitive advantage. Barry could also licence others to reproduce and sell his varieties.
"The critical part of our business is that it is not a generic strawberry plant that anyone can just grow and grow," Barry explains. "We’ve got the exclusivity to our strawberries and now they basically can’t be copied".
He intends to apply for more PBRs in the future.
Support from a qualified person
Barry's advice for other businesses looking to protect their plants is to work with a good qualified person (QP), who is an integral part of the PRB application process and procedures.
"It’s been our big saving grace," Barry said. "Our Qualified Person is respected by the growers and IP Australia. He's well versed in the process, so he was a good intermediary between us and IP Australia."
Barry continues to received great support from his QP and intends to keep working with him to continue his success.