It is with much pleasure that I welcome Mike Chapman to Horticulture New Zealand as our new chief executive.
Little bro’ is growing up
Mike started on January 18 and his feet were hardly under his desk when the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced it had found an unwanted pest in Auckland. The tau fly.
Mike is well known to kiwifruit growers and many product groups. He is less well known in the vegetable sector, but Mike has assured us that one of his first aims is to get around to see a broad range of growers out in the regions.
Mike studied law at Otago University, joined the New Zealand Navy and worked for 16 years, finishing his military career as the Defence Force solicitor. In 1995 he left the service to join the Commerce Commission, working under former Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard. Five years on Mike left to join the Auckland District Law Society as its professional standards director, and so began his involvement with membership associations. In 2002 he moved to Tauranga and took up the role of chief executive of the regulatory body Kiwifruit New Zealand, and moved over to work for kiwifruit growers at NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) three years later.
Mike is no stranger to working with politicians, government policy makers and local council officials. And we are looking forward to accessing his expertise, networks and skills.
I hope many of you got some time off over the Christmas and New Year break to spend some quality time with family and friends. In your December edition of the magazine I suggested you had some time to reflect on the year ahead. In so doing, you also need to look back to see where you have come from. In my opinion the industry has come a long way. Horticulture in New Zealand is the little brother to the major powers of the dairy, meat, forestry and wine sectors. But this little brother is growing up fast.
At the end of last year MPI predicted that the rise of horticulture would make a considerable contribution towards offsetting the slump in the primary sector’s export earnings caused by the dairy downturn.
But commercial fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand is not experiencing a sudden, out-of-the-blue `renaissance’ or `upturn’ in its fortunes. No, the growth the industry is experiencing is built on years of longterm strategic planning, commitment to developing new markets, constant evolution of production systems and, of course, good old-fashioned hard work.
MPI’S outlook for 2016 predicts a rise in industry returns of about $700 million, thanks to the recovery of kiwifruit post-Psa, increasing pipfruit and avocado exports, as well as improved market access with lower tariffs and exchange rates for products like onions, buttercup squash and cherries. The agency is forecasting this lift in growth to continue through to at least 2019. Its confidence is based on the growth in existing markets, plus the potential for growth in new markets, and the trade benefits starting to flow through from free trade agreements with countries such as Taiwan and South Korea.
Collectively the fruit and vegetable industries are worth $5 billion, just over half of that value coming into the country as export returns. Australia is New Zealand’s largest market for fresh horticulture produce. We export fresh and processed produce valued at $450 million to Australia. Of the top 10 countries we export to, seven are in Asia. Long gone are the days of dependence on the European Union. New Zealand horticulture is now firmly established as a global business, trading with more than 120 countries annually.
New Zealand’s 5,500 commercial fruit and vegetable growers don’t take much for granted. Not the weather, the government or their industry
representatives. They care about putting good food on the tables of families in New Zealand, and in countries around the world. We are very proud of this.
Hort NZ was created almost 10 years ago out of the merger of the Vegetable and Potato Growers Federation, the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation and New Zealand Berryfruit Federation.
The challenge facing Hort NZ going into its second decade is to continue to ensure it is representing the views of the majority of growers on issues in which they cannot be as effective on their own. It’s up to the product groups to deliver on their individual strategic plans while we help clear the pathway or set the scene on pan-industry matters.
Horticulture in New Zealand is the little brother to the major powers of the dairy, meat, forestry and wine sectors. But this little brother is growing up fast.
This focus has got horticulture to its position as New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner. Continued focus on working together, working smarter and growing not just one but all businesses in the sector, will ensure little brother will continue to play a significant role in New Zealand’s primary sector family. 2016, bring it ON!
| President Hortnz