It’s on! Trade show and conference season launched in style this month.
First up, the Summerfruit conference in Queenstown kicked off the series of conferences and trade shows that Jenkins Freshpac support, sponsor and attend on an annual basis. Growers, packers, marketers and suppliers to NZ’s Summerfruit industry converged on a spectacular (but freezing) Central Otago region ready to network, learn and enjoy each other’s company…
And, with a bang, Wednesday morning’s presentations set the scene.
Lane Jaiger was first and, in his role as Chairman of the Primary Sector Council, outlined the need for the industry’s goals to be as unified as possible across all sub-sectors, while respecting the individual needs of these sub-categories. What a challenge! The term “pan-sector” popped up a lot and some real perspective of cultivated land was given in the % of land currently in “High Value Hort” usage (70,000 hectares of 14M). The real kicker for me was the pressure that would continue to mount (socially, environmentally – but also politically) on managing and mandating how we manage our productive land. I.e. Sorry, but this is not going to lessen anytime soon.
Peter Stevens, the Chief Executive for GS1 NZ, continued the momentum with an engaging presentation focussed on the need to embrace the combination of “Biotech” and Infotech”. He even gave a few recommended reads (including “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari). Then the Mayor of the Central Otago district, Tim Cadogan, extolled the virtues of the regional producers (rightfully so!) and channelled his courtroom experience into a short but entertaining oration.
This energy, and the focus on us being an international bringer of “premium” to the world, set up a great couple of days in Queenstown as Summerfruit entities mingled, networked, laughed and learnt together. From these first speeches through to the dinner atop Bob’s Peak, this was well worth the time and effort.
Then, on to dairy farm country, a handful of the team ventured to the annual NZ Fieldays. As much as this has expanded over the years from an agricultural-specific event (still evident in the amount of companies and brands that start with “Agri”), I continue to find the trade show amazing. There is no other national example of suppliers pulling out “all the stops” to show off their wares and unabashedly compete in size and design of their stand. From boutique preserves to craft beer, recycled plastic fence posts to global suppliers of tractors, water catchment, electric utility bikes… you name it, you’ll find it. From a heavy machinery point of view, you could not find a more convenient way of comparing brands and suppliers in one day. No wonder the Fieldays is an annual pilgrimage for many kiwis. I see this as a great example of where our industry should head. Standing proud and showing off… just a bit.
In a similar but more modest way, our team will make our annual pilgrimage to Hort Connections next week. I’m looking forward to seeing how this event evolves and (hopefully) grows into more of a showcase of all things “Hort”. I might just see you there!