During the International Blueberry Organization (IBO) Summit in Argentina and Uruguay last week, the group announced Peter McPherson would take the reigns as the new president, succeeding Chilean Blueberry Committee president Andres Armstrong in the role.
Mr. McPherson, who is General Manager – Berry International at Australia’s largest integrated fresh produce company Costa Group, said his election was unexpected but certainly an honor.
“I am very proud to represent the Australian Blueberry Growers Association and now the global blueberry industry - that being said I have big shoes to fill following on from my good friend Mr. Andres Armstrong and we must maintain focus on delivering value to all our members,” he said.
“Given Mother Nature’s influence on our business every day presents new challenges, and given the generic nature of the IBO we will continue to add value to all growers as the industry continues to grow – after all that’s what the IBO stands for.
“Hence we will strive to raise the bar with greater quality of information flow via the various forms of social media to assist this growth.”
Mr. Armstrong said the enthusiasm seen around the world for blueberries was very special both from growers and consumers, and wished Mr. McPherson all the best as IBO president.
“I think renewal is very healthy for institutions. Peter has impressive experience and knows the industry very well throughout the world,” Mr. Armstrong said.
“I am sure he will be a big help.”
Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) president Carlos Stabile will step into Mr. McPherson’s previous role of treasurer, while British and Polish industry representative Stephen Taylor will continue as IBO secretary.
Last year’s IBO Summit in Coffs Harbour, Australia had more than 300 participants, but this year’s event in Concordia, Argentina and Salto, Uruguay built on that success with more than 400 people in attendance.
“As convener in Australia last year we were very proud of our event but let me say with some 400 hundred attendees this year it has continued on in lifting the bar,” Mr. McPherson said.
“Both the Argentine and Uruguayan committees must be congratulated particularly given that the past few seasons have not been overly kind to them – the presentations were of very high quality as was the hospitality.”
Blueberry Producers’ Association of Mesopotamia Argentina (APAMA) president Omar Chiarello said he was very happy with how the summit has developed.
“We have really been able to bring together the main actors, growers and influential businesspeople that decide and learn about the future of blueberry production,” Mr. Chiarello said.
“The organization is growing, reflecting the global nature of blueberries,” added Oregon-based Fall Creek Farm & Nursery president Dave Brazelton.
“There was excellent attendance, I believe by 27 countries. As always it was an excellent opportunity to network with key players.”
The conference involved talks at the Concordia Convention Center, as well as farm visits in Concordia and Salto.
McPherson said the next IBO Summit would take place in China but the timing was yet to be confirmed.
“The committee has made a conscious decision to rotate the event on an eighteen month basis between the Northern and Southern hemispheres so as to align with production.
“It is thought this will encourage greater global participation and value to members and industry supplier’s seeking innovation going forward.
“This could start immediately or after the China event but that decision will be made soon.”
Jodean Robbins Duarte