Terry Meikle, Chief Executive, New Zealand Apples & Pears
The first 90 days – the road to global leadership.
As I approach the first 90 days as CEO of New Zealand Apples and Pears, I reflect fondly on what can best be described as a challenging start. With Omicron firmly establishing itself in New Zealand and the South Pacific, inflation rising globally, labour shortages, shipping and logistics disruptions; the last thing the industry, country, or world needed was a war in Ukraine.
Whether we like it or not, as a small country in a globalised world, we need to deeply understand these new challenges. Increasingly, we must have our finger on the pulse of both New Zealand’s foreign and trade policy. While our industry may only be a speck in the sand of the geopolitics currently playing out, you can guarantee we will be impacted one way or another.
While a tiny player on the global stage, New Zealand has often demonstrated global leadership. One example in our own industry comes in the form of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. Despite the challenges we continue to face, New Zealand apple and pear growers, and NZAPI, should be very proud of the key role we play in the success of the RSE. In 2022 we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the RSE. It is truly a win-win partnership. The RSE has been transformative for the New Zealand apple and pear industry. I must admit some surprise when I learned that close to 80% of our fruit is picked by RSE workers. I was equally delighted to hear stories of the way in which the RSE scheme has transformed families, villages and communities all across the South Pacific. In the coming years I would like to see us deepen these partnerships further. The upcoming review of the RSE provides us with a golden opportunity to make this fabulous programme even better. In future years, I believe the RSE will become a temporary migration model that the world will want and need to learn about.
As the world moves towards reducing its environmental footprint from food production, horticulture and plant proteins will play an increasingly important role in government policy and consumers’ diets globally. This will drive transformational change in New Zealand and around the world. Global consumers are increasingly demanding that food is produced sustainably. At New Zealand Apples and Pears we want to be the world’s most competitive and sustainable industry in the world. The industry has set itself a long-term goal of becoming spray free by 2050. Later this year, NZAPI will also undertake a life cycle analysis of our apple production. We are also investing in a Global Sustainability Advisor, whose role will be to help our members meet the global expectations of sustainability coming at them in the form of government policy and regulations and private sector standards.
New Zealand apples and pears has some amazing stories to tell the country and the world. I am very much looking forward to the journey.