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Simon Newett
  • Simon Newett
  • Principal Extension Horticulturist
  • Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Queensland, Australia
  • After working in the macadamia industry for 10 years Simon joined the Queensland DPI in 1992 and his main areas of responsibility have been with the avocado and pineapple industries. His avocado work has included the AVOMAN and AVOINFO software, the Agrilink Avocado Information Kit, the Avocado Grower Study Groups, the Avocado Problem Solver Field Guide and the on-line Best Practice Resource. Simon has also co-led several avocado overseas study tours.

Dr Ruth Huwer
  • Dr Ruth Huwer
  • Entomologist
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australia
  • Ruth is an entomologist and has been with NSW DPI since 2002, based at the Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, NSW, Australia.

    Ruth specialises in Integrated Pest Management strategies in tropical and subtropical horticulture and has a background in biological control, insect ecology and general ecological principles.

    Ruth has particular interest is sustainable management of insect pests that maintains an ecological balance and benefits from maximum input of natural enemies, by minimising pesticide input and using “softer” insecticides that are compatible with beneficals.

Peter Minchin
  • Dr Peter Minchin
  • Specialist Mechanism of Phloem Transport
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
  • For the last 35 years Peter has specialised on the mechanism of phloem transport and more recently concentrated on the control of partitioning between competing sinks.

    Peter’s phloem modelling work has demonstrated that partitioning is an emergent property of the accepted Münch pressure flow. This has led to his interest in alternate bearing in avocado and what plant mechanisms could be involved in this complex phenomenon.

Terry Campbell
  • Terry Campbell
  • Principal Extension Horticulturist
  • Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Queensland, Australia
  • Terry has over 30 years experience in helping improve horticulture systems. His knowledge and experience covers both pre- and postharvest practices and he has worked extensively with the mango avocado and papaya industries in Queensland. He provides technical leadership in the supply chain component of the Avocado Export Initiative.

    Terry was project leader for the development of improved avocado systems and will be presenting recent work on training videos and fruit ripening models to improve understanding and management of avocado ripening.

Zelda Van Rooyen
  • Dr Zelda van Rooyen
  • Westfalia Technological Services, South Africa
  • Zelda obtained her PhD Horticulture at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in 2007. She joined Westfalia Technological Services in 2008 and now heads up the Research division. Avocado research interests stretch from postharvest fruit physiology studies to the evaluation and commercialization of new cultivar and rootstock material both nationally and internationally. Westfalia Technological Services has been involved in cultivar and rootstock screening for close to 30 years now with the main focus being on improving productivity and stretching the season.

  • Julie Petty
  • Avocados Australia
  • Julie Petty and Joanna Embry primarily manage the suite of projects which make up the Avocado Supply Chain Improvement Program. This program focuses on providing better crop flow information to industry and improving overall fruit quality.  

    Julie has worked with Avocados Australia for almost three years and prior to that worked with the Queensland Pineapple and Apple industries for four years. Julie has a Bachelor of Agribusiness from the University of Queensland.

Mike Chapman
  • Mike Chapman
  • Chief Executive
  • NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI)
  • Mike has been Chief Executive since July 2005. NZKGI is the national organisation for kiwifruit growers that represents, protects and enhances the growers’ commercial and political interests. In addition to being Chief Executive of NZKGI, Mike chairs and serves on a number of horticultural and kiwifruit industry committees including Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH). KVH was established to manage Psa-V and to take industry responsibility for all other Biosecurity issues.

    Mike trained as a lawyer and previous appointments include Defence Force Solicitor, Chief Counsel at the Commerce Commission, Professional Standards Director for the Auckland District Law Society and Chief Executive of Kiwifruit NZ.

Dr Elizabeth Dann
  • Dr Elizabeth Dann
  • Plant Pathologist
  • University of Queensland
  • Liz leads an industry-funded project on reducing the impact of soilborne, fruit and nursery diseases in avocado. Her research focuses on evaluating management options for Phytophthora root rot, brown root rot (Phellinus noxius), and postharvest fruit stem end rot and anthracnose. Liz recently confirmed Calonectria sp. as a severe root pathogen of nursery trees.

Dr Karen Bishop
  • Dr Karen Bishop
  • Research Fellow in the Discipline of Nutrition
  • University of Auckland and The Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre
  • Karen has a PhD in Virology from the University of Natal, South Africa. Her current research focus is on how single nucleotide polymorphisms and epigenetic changes might influence the development of Prostate cancer. In addition Karen is co-ordinating a Mediterranean-style dietary intervention study with the aim of reducing inflammation in men with Prostate cancer.

Dr Russell Ballard
  • Dr Russell Ballard
  • Independent Chairman
  • Plant Market Access Council (PMAC)
  • Russ Ballard is an independent director. Relevant current appointments include independent Chairman, Plant Market Access Council (PMAC) and Chancellor of Massey University. He is a previous Director-General of agriculture with a professional background in tree nutrition. Russ is a co-author of the publication “A Call to Arms – a contribution to a New Zealand agri-food strategy”.

Lisa Cork
  • Lisa Cork
  • Owner | Director
  • Fresh Produce Marketing Ltd
  • Lisa Cork is the owner/director of Fresh Produce Marketing Ltd and for the past 20+ years she has specialized in working with fresh produce growers and their industry associations. Her passion is helping growers find ways to earn better returns through the use of smart and effective branding and packaging strategies. Lisa regularly presents at conferences around the world and is a well-known magazine columnist, writing for both Good Fruit and Vegetable and Produce Plus magazines.

Kerry Everett  DSC6829-Edit
  • Dr Kerry Everett
  • Senior Scientist
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited
  • Dr Kerry Everett has been working in plant pathology for almost 30 years and has made significant contributions to the New Zealand avocado industry through her work on postharvest rots of avocados and for her work on avocado scab. In 2007 she lead a team that proved avocado scab was not present in New Zealand, which facilitated unfettered access to Australia. In October 2011, scientists from the Ministry of Primary Industries used the tools her team had developed to prove that avocado scab was misdiagnosed by USDA in Hawaii, which allowed continued market access to USA.

Andrew Geering
  • Dr Andrew Geering
  • Senior Research Fellow
  • University of Queensland
  • Dr Andrew Geering is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland and works to improve food security through providing control options for diseases that affect sub-tropical and tropical horticultural crops such as banana, pineapple, avocado, tomato and other vegetables. Queensland is uniquely positioned for this type of research as it is one of the few developed countries with a substantial portion of its landmass in the tropics. Dr Geering is internationally renowned for his work on endogenous viruses, which are viruses that exist as integrated forms in the genomes of plants. He is also interested in pathogen evolution and the interactions of pathogens with their hosts at the molecular level. He seeks to develop novel methods to detect plant pathogens, such as utilizing recombinant antibodies in serological assays. Recent research has focused on the development of nationally-accredited diagnostic protocols for Avocado sunblotch viroid and laurel wilt disease to help safeguard the Australian avocado industry.

JohnTyas 1 5cm 300dpi - Copy
  • John Tyas
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Avocados Australia Ltd
  • John Tyas is the Chief Executive Officer of Avocados Australia. He has had a long association with the Australian avocado industry in previous roles and was appointed as Avocados Australia CEO in May 2012. He has more than 20 years experience working in the horticultural industry and previously worked for 11 years with Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) as Industry Services Manager. As Industry Services Manager he assisted a range of tropical fruit industries, and was responsible for managing the HAL relationship with these member industries and overseeing the Research and Development and Marketing levy investment programs. John has worked for the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation managing horticulture industry R&D portfolios prior to its merger with the Australian Horticultural Corporation to form HAL. Previous roles include managing Research and Development levy programs for Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers (now Growcom) and working for Queensland DPI as an Extension Horticulturalist.

Jonathan Dixon- Copy
  • Dr Jonathan Dixon
  • Research Programme Director
  • California Avocado Commission
  • Jonathan serves in a senior management position overseeing all aspects of the California Avocado Commission's research program activities. Additionally he acts as an advisor to the Commission on research strategy and setting of industry priorities. Jonathan joined the California Avocado Commission in 2010 after 10 years with the New Zealand avocado industry. He is knowledgeable about avocado research around the world. He has particular interests in avocado growing systems to manage alternate bearing and the postharvest management of avocado fruit.

David Pattemore - Copy
  • David Pattemore
  • Scientist
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Reseach Limited
  • David has been working as a pollination scientist for Plant & Food Research in Hamilton since June 2011. In his time at Plant & Food Research he has worked on a diverse range of projects including Avocado pollination, the ability of Psa (the kiwifruit disease) to survive in beehives, and the use of artificial nest boxes to boost bumblebee populations in orchards.

Jennifer Scoular- Copy
  • Jennifer Scoular
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • New Zealand Avocado
  • Jen is a successful and experienced international business professional, who has extensive experience and expertise in finance, international trade and building global networks. Jen has worked for Zespri International as Commercial Manager - Supply Chain and Grower Contracts then as Group Treasurer. Her most recent previous role was a four year posting as New Zealand Consul General and Trade Commissioner with NZ Trade & Enterprise at the New Zealand Consulate in Hamburg, Germany. Jen has been CEO of NZ Avocado since 2011 and her focus is to develop and drive the strategy for the industry to become globally successful and maximise value for avocado growers in the long term.

Merran Neilson
  • Merran Neilsen
  • Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
  • Merran completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Queensland in 2008. During Honours, she studied the genetic diversity and pathogenicity of Alternaria causing fruit spot and leaf blotch of apple in Australia. Merran presented the results of this work at the Australasian Plant Pathology Conference in Darwin in 2011. She is currently undertaking an industry-supported PhD looking at the mechanisms of resistance of avocado rootstocks to Phytophthora root rot.

DSC 0341 Grant Thorp - Copy
  • Grant Thorp
  • Senior Scientist
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
  • Dr Grant Thorp is a Senior Scientist with Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. He completed his PhD studies in Adelaide, Australia researching avocado tree architecture. He currently leads programmes researching causes of irregular bearing and low productivity in avocado including the development of high density planting systems; development of pruning systems and protocols for crop load regulation with new kiwifruit cultivars; breeding of new rootstocks for kiwifruit; and the global commercialisation of kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta).

Duncan Sinclair
  • Duncan Sinclair
  • Marketing Services Manager
  • Horticulture Australia Limited
  • Duncan has over 15 years marketing experience across Australian food and beverage sectors and the Australian Wine Industry. Starting a career with Kraft Foods Ltd, then roles with Australian owned co-ops Ardmona Foods Ltd and Dairy Farmers he gained experience across a variety of FMCG categories. Joining the Yalumba Wine Company as Brand Marketing Manager, Duncan successfully managed a portfolio of wines including boutique, international commercially driven table wines and luxury champagne brands. As Marketing Services Manager for Horticulture Australia Limited, Duncan has worked collaboratively with Avocados Australia to develop the Avocado Strategic Marketing Plan 2013-16.

Dr Alvaro Vidiella
  • Dr Alvaro Vidiella
  • Scientist
  • NZ Avocado
  • Originally from Uruguay, Alvaro spent 20 years in Spain where he gained an Agricultural Engineer (Agronomist) degree and a PhD in Horticulture. During his PhD, Alvaro was responsible for the scientific work related to the adaptation of new fruit tree germplasm to Cordoba’s regional environment. During his career he has developed R&D strategies, been a lecturer on fruit production and a horticultural consultant for fruit tree orchards. Before joining NZ Avocado, Alvaro worked for the University of Cordoba developing new communication and extension methods. Alvaro has been with NZ Avocado since 2011 and is focussed on the development of the current R&D programme aimed at mitigating irregular bearing and increasing average yield in New Zealand avocado orchards.

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  • Brett Hewlett
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Comvita
  • Brett was appointed CEO of global New Zealand natural health and beauty products company Comvita in September 2005. He has significant international business development experience and has worked in a number of roles in emerging and developed markets in the eastern Mediterranean, United Kingdom and Europe. He served 15 years overseas with world-leading food packaging company Tetra Pak and previously ran his own strategy consulting company. Brett is an independent director of the US-based, NASDAQ-listed (DCSI) specialty medical device and pharmaceutical company Derma Sciences Inc. Brett has also been an active angel investor and holds an MBA from the internationally renowned business school, IMD in Switzerland, in addition to a Bachelor of Food Technology from Massey University.

 Simon Hegarty
  • Simon Hegarty
  • Chief Executive
  • NZ Horticulture Export Authority
  • Simon is an experienced trade advocate for New Zealand's primary/food sector. His current role with the Horticulture Export Authority is to promote the effective export marketing of horticulture products and includes responsibility for industry liaison with Government agencies on trade barriers and their removal. Simon's strategic skills and experience in trade access and market development have resulted in him having a key industry advisory role during various free trade agreement negotiations and other wider trade access issues.

 Nadia Lim
  • Nadia Lim
  • NZ Avocado Ambassador
  • Nadia Lim is a qualified dietician, holding a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics from Otago University. Lim shot to fame in 2011 when she won the New Zealand Masterchef title. Throughout the series she established a reputation for creating delicious yet healthy meals. Following her Masterchef win and the release of her inaugural cookbook Nadia’s Kitchen, Lim has worked with many New Zealand charities to help encourage Kiwis to improve their diet. She regularly makes television and radio appearances, and contributes to Bite (NZ Herald), Food Magazine, and the Healthy Food Guide. She also holds cooking demonstrations and has established her own popular website ( where people can access her original and inventive recipes. Nadia became involved with NZ Avocado in 2012 as the NZ Avocado Ambassador.

 20100903 photo Sara Jaeger
  • Dr Sara Jaeger
  • New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
  • Sara trained in Denmark and the UK and currently leads a team of sensory and consumer researchers at the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research. She has an extensive international research network and is particularly interested in consumer behaviour and research methodology. Sara regularly publishes in peer-reviewed international journals and recently co-edited a book on consumer driven product development of foods/beverages and personal care products. She has worked with several global food and beverage companies, and is a regular speaker at conferences. Sara co-chaired the 9th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium and currently serves as editor for the journal Food Quality and Preference.

 2004 Allan Woolf
  • Allan Woolf
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
  • Allan has worked in postharvest research for 20 years at Plant & Food Research (formerly HortResearch). Work on avocado has included examining studying maturity, in depth study of postharvest heat treatments for reduction of chilling injury and disinfestation, effect of sun exposure on thermotolerance and storage quality, effects of storage temperature and time, potential of 1-MCP for reducing internal chilling injury, and the area of High Pressure Processing. Successful commercial outcomes included development of ethylene ripening protocols, the International Avocado Assessment Manual, development of a low temperature disinfestation protocol for fruit fly using low temperature conditioning, assisting with development of cold pressed avocado oil industry, and development of waterblasting for removal of external pests.

  • Muhammad Sohail Mazhar
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia
  • Muhammad Sohail Mazhar did his Masters Degree in Horticulture at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad Pakistan in 2007 and served the mango supply chain management project of ACIAR in Pakistan from 2007 to 2011 as Project Officer. Sohail was awarded an Endeavour Executive Award to learn the principles of agribusiness supply chain management at University of Queensland from January to May 2009. In 2011, Sohail was awarded ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship (JAF) to do a Ph.D on avocado supply chains, at the University of Queensland. His research is on bruising in Hass avocado supply chains. Some interesting findings of three years of his Ph.D researchwill be presented at the conference.

 Mark Dreher Photo
  • Dr Mark Dreher
  • Nutrition Research Advisor
  • Hass Avocado Board
  • Mark L Dreher, PhD is the President and Chief Science Officer of Nutrition Science Solutions, LLC. He has been a nutrition research advisor to the Hass Avocado Board and their nutrition research plan since 2009. Dr. Dreher received his PhD in Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition from The University of Arizona. Prior to becoming a consultant in 2009, he held nutrition research leadership positions in a number of food and nutritional companies. Dr. Dreher has also held several international food and nutrition leadership roles including serving as the chair of the International Life Science Institute -North American Food, Nutrition and Safety Committee and as a member of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Carbohydrate and Human Nutrition. He has authored or co-authored over 45 research journal articles as well as book chapters and books.

 Ben Bartlett
  • Ben Bartlett
  • Category Manager Fruit
  • Progressive Enterprises - Countdown, New Zealand
  • Ben Bartlett is has 20 years experience in the New Zealand and Australian produce industry. He started his produce journey with MG Marketing working in wholesale, domestic sales and management roles throughout NZ before moving to Australia as National Imports Manager at LaManna Bananas. He returned to NZ in 2010 with MG Marketing before, in 2012, taking on the role of Category Manager Fruit for Progressive Enterprises, Countdown supermarkets and is relishing the challenge that retail provides. He is passionate about produce and the important role that it plays in the Australasian landscape.

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  • Dr Neena Mitter
  • Senior Research Fellow
  • The University of Queensland, Australia
  • The plant and microbial biotechnology group led by Dr Neena Mitter focuses on developing novel and innovative RNA silencing based biotechnological approaches towards management of biotic and abiotic stresses. The group were the first to show the breakdown of RNA silencing based resistance to plant viruses upon infection by a heterologous virus. The group is also investigating the potential of RNA silencing against fungi and insect pests and cutting edge platform technology for using artificial microRNAs for virus resistance. The diversity of expertise in her group across plant and animal science has led to collaborative project on nanoparticle based delivery of veterinary vaccines.

  • Stephen Toplis
  • Head of Research, Markets
  • Bank of New Zealand
  • Stephen was appointed as BNZ’s Head of Market Economics in April 2001. He now carries the title of Head of Research. His previous employment included Chief Economist Deutsche Securities, Chief Economist BT Securities, Chief Economist Doyle Paterson Brown and Chief Economist Fay Richwhite. He is located in BNZ’s Wellington Markets Division where he is charged with providing an economic and political overview for the Bank’s wholesale operation. The end focus of much of his work is the analysis of business risk for the BNZ’s corporate clients.

  • Dr Michelle Glogau
  • CEO
  • BioGro New Zealand
  • Dr Michelle Glogau is the CEO of BioGro, New Zealand’s leading organic certifier. Established in 1983 by the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society, BioGro is the recognised expert in organic standards, certification and market access in NZ. BioGro certification enables organic producers to market their products as “organic” in domestic and international markets. Michelle’s background includes Standards development (Project Manager, Standards New Zealand including developing the National Organic Standard), consumer issues (Research Manager, Consumers’ Institute) and Horticultural Technical Expertise (Technical Manager, Watkins NZ). Michelle has a PhD in Plant Physiology.

 Bronwen Anderson
  • Bronwen Anderson
  • United Fresh
  • Bronwen Anderson has a degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Otago and has wide experience in the field including having held the role of CEO of the NZ Nutrition Foundation and Vice Chair of Agencies for Nutrition Action, an organisation focusing on the reduction of obesity and the obesogenic environment. She has worked in partnership with a number of not-for-profit organisations and has been actively involved in Government and non-government groups tasked with promoting healthy lifestyles both on a national and international level.

 Ian Proudfoot-20130218 MR
  • Ian Proudfoot
  • Global Sector Leader for Agribusiness,KPMG/Head of Agribusiness
  • KPMG in New Zealand
  • Ian grew up in rural West Sussex in Great Britain before gaining a BSc Honours degree in Industrial Economics from the University of Warwick. He joined the Manufacturing, Retail and Distribution audit team of KPMG in London in 1992 and completed his Chartered Accounting qualification. In 1996, Ian joined KPMG Auckland on an initial 18 month secondment, which has now extended to over 17 years. Ian has provided audit and transaction services to clients in a wide range of industry sectors over this period and many of New Zealand’s leading companies. Ian was made a partner in the New Zealand firm in October 2004, on completion of a 13 month secondment to Fonterra Co-operative Group where he led the Co-operative’s group reporting team. His sector experience includes work with clients in the agribusiness, construction, transport, utilities, gas, distribution, publishing and hospitality sectors. Ian formulated and has led KPMG New Zealand’s agribusiness sector strategy over the last five years. Recognising the gap in the market for independent insights and thought leadership on New Zealand’s most productive sector, Ian created and has authored the four annual KPMG Agribusiness Agenda publications and edits KPMG’s weekly Field Notes newsletter ( Ian has also recently been asked to lead the development of a global agribusiness sector focus group across KPMG International. Ian is regular speaker and commentator on matters of significance to the agribusiness sector, both in New Zealand and Internationally.

 Peter Thomson
  • Peter Thomson
  • Ministry of Primary Industries
  • Peter Thomson is the Director of Plants, Food & Environment in the Ministry for Primary Industries. He is responsible for the integrity of New Zealand’s export assurances and certification to trading partners that our exports meet their phytosanitary requirements. His senior staff participate in market access negotiations with trading partners to open and maintain our export markets. He is also accountable for Import Health Standards for imports of plants, plant products, and inanimate goods that may be a biosecurity risk to New Zealand; and the production, processing, handling and sale of food within New Zealand, including implementation of Joint Food Standards with Australia. Peter holds a bachelors degree in forestry science and an MBA. He started his career with 12 years in the forest industry managing forestry operations, scientific research programmes and imbedding new science into operational practice. He joined MAF in 2002 as Director Forest Biosecurity where he was involved in the successful aerial spraying eradication programmes in Auckland and Hamilton. From 2005 until the NZFSA/MAF/MFish mergers he led the post-border part of the biosecurity system - surveillance, readiness, emergency response and pest management.

 LisaYates sml
  • Lisa Yates
  • Consultant Dietitian
  • Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 17 years experience in nutrition communications, strategy development and implementation, event management and clinical dietetic practice. Since 2004 Lisa has been the Program Manager and Dietitian to Nuts for Life a health education initiative of the Australian Tree Nut Industry and has consulted to the Australian Avocado industry since 2011. Lisa has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Pharmacology as well as a Masters Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics both from the University of Sydney.

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  • Dr Jeremy Burdon
  • Senior Scientist
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
  • Jeremy has over 25 years experience conducting academic and commercial postharvest research, delivering training courses and undertaking consultancy work. He moved to New Zealand nearly 20 years ago from the UK and undertakes research for the New Zealand avocado and kiwifruit industries. Recent research on avocado has focussed on prolonging storage through improved use of controlled atmospheres, the use of Smartfresh(SM), the impact of handling and storage practice on fruit quality and potential markers for late season maturity, including C7 carbohydrates.

 Lois photo work 2
  • Lois Ransom
  • Manager
  • Government Industry Agreement (GIA)
  • Lois Ransom is the Manager of the Secretariat for the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response. She is on extended leave from the Australian Government until October 2014. A plant pathologist by training and practice, she has worked for the Tasmanian Government, and has been Australia's Chief Plant Protection Officer, represented Australia at the International Plant Protection Convention, Chair of the Consultative Committee for national emergency plant pest responses, Chair of the national Plant Health Committee and Australia's Agriculture Counsellor in Tokyo (2000 to 2003.

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