Alan Pollard, Chief Executive, New Zealand Apples & Pears
This is my last contribution to the HBFA newsletter as CEO of NZ Apples & Pears. I will officially step down on Wednesday 17 November. My replacement, Terry Meikle (coming to the role from MPI) will commence in the CEO role on 13 December.
I have been in my role for a bit over 9½ years and feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to work in such an amazing industry.
When I joined in March 2012, export returns were about $340m. In 2020 they hit $917m, not far off our $1b goal.
It is easy to lose sight of the long term prospects for the industry, when all energy is being invested in trying to keep businesses operating in the face of short term challenges such as labour constraints, logistics challenges and escalating costs. But if we can navigate a path through these short term issues the future does look very bright.
The government have been slow to show any level of support for the industry, a shameful situation when it was industries such as ours that kept New Zealand trading during the COVID lock down and ensured food security for kiwis and consumers overseas. It is also industries such as ours that will lead New Zealand’s post-COVID recovery. And it is poor/no government planning that is holding us all back from reconnecting with the world. There was no plan to be prepare for a Delta variant, no investment in health infrastructure to ensure that the country could cope with the inevitable increases in community cases and hospitalisations, and no rational thought as to how we can implement systems to support our reconnection. The focus remained on elimination and that has failed us all.
I want to acknowledge the cooperation and support from HBFA. It is great having the Association in our offices, making it easier to engage. We have so much that we can collaborate on, particularly around labour, capability and education. I am sure that our relationship will continue to grow.
Finally, I want to thank and acknowledge all of the growers and other members of HBFA. I have immense respect for our growing community and I thank you all for including me in the journey over the past 9½ years. I will follow the progress of the horticulture sector with interest and I wish you all well for the future.