The significant contributions of three kiwifruit leaders, soon to leave the industry, were acknowledged last night by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc.
NZKGI chairman Doug Brown says Zespri CEO Lain Jager, Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer and Kiwifruit Vine Health CEO Barry O’Neil have all played vital roles in guiding the kiwifruit industry through tough times, including the outbreak of the vine disease Psa-V, and restoring it once again to its place as a highly successful industry.
Lain has stepped down as Zespri CEO, handing the role to Daniel Mathieson. Simon has taken up the appointment as CEO of Silver Fern Farms and Barry leaves KVH in March next year.
The trio were recognised following the final NZKGI forum meeting for 2017 when Doug says the highs and lows of the year were reviewed.
Among the highlights was the significant support from growers for the continuation of the NZKGI levy and the establishment of the Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum.
“Weather has been a challenge for growers during 2017 with lower dry matter in fruit. Exports of 125 million trays were down on 145 million in 2016,” he says.
Employment breaches by kiwifruit contractors uncovered by Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment were of concern, as was the unauthorised growing, off-shore of Zespri new varieties G3 and G9.
However, Doug says the industry is in good heart and confidence for the coming season is strong.
NZKGI was formed following the downturn in the kiwifruit industry in 1993 to give growers their own organisation to develop a secure and stable kiwifruit industry. NZKGI represents 2600 kiwifruit growers and gives growers their own voice in industry and government decision making.
The NZ Kiwifruit Growers Forum consists of 17 Regional representatives, one Maori Forum Representative and nine Supply Entity Representatives. Forum members are elected every three years by all kiwifruit growers via a postal ballot. The forum members in turn elect a chairman, vice chairman and executive committee.