Linda Flegg, Chair of NZ Avocado Growers’ Association announced in May the resignation of their CEO Jen Scoular after 12 years in the role.
“Jen has served us tirelessly over the past 12 years and her achievements along the way are many. When Jen took up the role after a four-year term as a trade diplomat in Hamburg, Germany, our industry was struggling and lacked engagement, communication and systems, which gave Jen a lot to focus on,” says Linda Flegg.
Under her leadership industry value increased from $82m in 2011-12 to $231m in 2021, and the New Zealand market value from $19m to $62m in 2021-22. During her tenure the industry successfully achieved market access for avocados into both the China and India market, joined the biosecurity partnership with the government and achieved the first horticulture primary growth partnership in 2014, which finished in December 2022.
The successful primary growth partnership with Crown investment allowed real change in how the industry operated, with strong external investment across a number of areas where investment from grower levies alone was not enough to make the required change.
The PGP required the industry to put together a five-year plan, and later a business plan to extend the programme and funding for a further three years.
Those strategic plans were reviewed and approved by an independent panel of experts, and the PGP itself had a MPI/industry steering group with an independent chair.
That external, independent contribution to the strategy and governance of our sector provided additional, independent thinking, and ensured the plan optimised delivery for the industry.
Linda Flegg says that, “The 10th World Avocado Congress here in New Zealand was a fitting finale for Jen and with five years in the planning, against the odds of Covid and border closures, it was a phenomenal success.”
Eight keynote speakers from five countries, and 130 presentations from 16 countries allowed the global sector to discuss both opportunities and challenges. The sector is faced with significant increases in supply not yet matched by investment into market demand, and global media seeks to challenge the sustainability of the sector. The congress shared some very strong actions being taken across sustainability, in most producing countries, and activated a call to collectively take back the narrative on sustainability.
“With 1,160 delegates from 33 countries, the congress was a wonderful opportunity to put our industry and New Zealand on the world stage. Fieldays on the two days leading up to the congress took 760 delegates on 18 buses to 10 different locations, allowing many of the 750 overseas delegates to see the innovation and passion on our avocado orchards. Delegates loved the open-hearted welcome from the kiwi hosts”, says Linda Flegg.
Jen developed and led an amazing team who work strongly together to support growers, packers and marketers to grow the value of the NZ avocado sector. That team was instrumental in the success of the World Avocado Congress and the value created for the avocado sector from the visibility achieved.
Jen will remain in the role until mid-August and will take the opportunity to farewell some of the 1,400 avocados growers across the growing regions. She has always loved the part of her role that is out on orchards meeting growers and seeing the innovation happening on our orchards. Jen remains an avocado grower and member of the organisation.
Linda Flegg commented that “On behalf of the board, growers and industry parties we thank Jen for her commitment to delivering value to growers through a very strong growth period, and growing the visibility of our sector, and of avocados, both in New Zealand and globally. She has left a legacy that will require some big shoes to fill.”
Related: Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool