NZ: New people join HortNZ Board

HortNZ is welcoming two new faces and one familiar face to its Board.

Doug Brown and Alistair Petrie are the new faces, while Hugh Ritchie is the familiar one. 

Doug has been active in agri-business leadership for more than 35 years. Together with his brothers, Doug runs a mixed dairy and kiwifruit operation – a herd of 3000 and a kiwifruit production footprint in excess of 100 hectares across Te Puke, Opotiki, and Gisborne, including a joint venture with local Māori in Te Kaha.

"Growers across the horticulture industry have faced significant challenges in recent times," says Doug. "The role of HortNZ has never been more critical in continuing to advocate for grower interests while building a sustainable environment for the industry to operate in and thrive."

Alistair held senior positions in the Turners and Growers group of companies and Freshmax before embarking on a governance and advisory career. His other directorships include Turners Automotive Group, Darling Group Holdings, and Bartel Holdings, while he is currently playing advisory roles for Pāmu and Foodchain.

"I have a strong conviction that grower/industry bodies need to be relevant to their stakeholders and need to evolve ahead of the curve to ensure they add value," says Alistair. "The rapid consolidation, innovation, and scale of many growers mean the focus of industry bodies is different to the structure of 20 years ago. I believe I can assist in this evolution."

Hugh is the Managing Director of Drumpeel Farms, a family-run farm in Hawke’s Bay encompassing more than 2,050 hectares of mixed cropping and livestock. More than 700ha is planted in crops, including cereals, seeds, and process vegetables, with the balance of the property being used for lamb and beef finishing.

“I am concerned that our ability to influence the significant policy reforms we are faced with is reducing,’ says Hugh. ‘This is not due to effort or strength of argument but the changing way politics work.

"I think we need to look closely at how we work as an industry. We need to look at how we can engage with other industries – not just in the primary sector – to create a louder voice to effect change and reduce duplication, ensuring levy funds are spent in the most cost-effective way."

HortNZ Board President Barry O’Neil says the industry is under immense pressure due to adverse weather events, rising production costs, and slimmer margins.

"I’m pleased that the HortNZ Board has been able to attract and retain such experienced and passionate people," says Barry. "The need for strong and decisive governance has never been higher, as the horticulture industry navigates its way through the challenges and opportunities that the next decade is presenting, as we adapt to changing weather conditions, growing methods and consumer preferences."

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