Leadership and collaboration are vital to keep New Zealand’s horticulture industry blooming, says the new President of the country’s only pan-produce organisation, United Fresh. New President Jerry Prendergast says the produce industry is entering a new era of business, just as United Fresh celebrates its 25th year. “New varieties, sustainability, new technologies and competitive advantage are just some of the factors guiding our strategic plan into the future,” he says.
The people who work in the industry are essential to delivering on these targets, he says. “In New Zealand we need to be collaborative to survive. We have a wealth of talented people that make our industry great and this is what will take us to the next level.”
With New Zealand’s horticulture sector enjoying stellar growth, Prendergast says United Fresh will continue to offer strong leadership, support and advice to its members.
“As the only organisation of its kind in the country, our main responsibility is to be the trusted opinion leaders, the ‘go-to’ people within the produce industry,” he says.
United Fresh provides members with guidance and compliance advice on issues such as food safety and traceability, biosecurity, industry standards and health and nutrition claims. It does this through e-newsletters, workshops, meetings, strategic partnerships and network opportunities.
It has taken the lead in food safety and traceability by forming the Food Safety and Traceability Committee, chaired by United Fresh Executive member, Dr Hans Maurer. Protecting New Zealand from pests and diseases that could put our multibillion-dollar produce industry at risk is another key focus.
“Working in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Horticulture New Zealand is vital to being able to move swiftly during a major biosecurity event,” says Prendergast.
The core of United Fresh’s work involves practical guidelines and advice. It also manages two high-profile initiatives: the 5+ A Day campaign and Fruit In Schools.
“The 5+ A Day campaign has been very successful in raising awareness and consumption rates in New Zealand,” says Prendergast. “As an organisation we are immensely proud of both of these initiatives and the benefits associated with them.”
Prendergast was previously Vice President of United Fresh and has over 35 years’ experience in the produce industry. He is national key account and brand development manager at MG Marketing.
Did you know?
There are currently 92 United Fresh members from across the entire fresh produce value chain. Members include Horticulture New Zealand, Foodstuffs, Countdown, Plant & Food Research, T&G Global, MG Marketing, Freshmax, Fresh Direct, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, Pipfruit New Zealand. There are also several Horticulture New Zealand product groups, and service providers such as CHEP New Zealand and GS1 New Zealand.