New grower advisory group for Just Avocados

Representatives of Just Avocados’ new grower advisory group Iain McGillivray, Steve Smith and Grant Kokich.

Just Avocados, Katikati-based avocado supply group, has brought together a group of enthusiastic avocado growers from across the regions to provide guidance to their team on Just Avocados' value proposition and operating policies.

Andrew Cutfield, general manager of investor relations and supply at Just Avocados says the grower advisory group was formed out of Just Avocados’ former Grower Trust which was originally put in place to oversee the avocado pool rules.

“The value of the Trust expanded beyond its core requirements to become a wider influencer and sounding board for Just Avocados in terms of our strategic direction.

“The value of having a group of proactive and commercially minded growers at the table was still important to the business and so hence the grower advisory group was created.”

Currently the group has four representatives who are growers from Katikati, South Auckland and the Far North.

Andrew says the role of the grower advisory Group is to act as a further conduit between growers and Just Avocados, acting as a sounding board for Just Avocados as well as representing the interests of growers and being another point of contact for suppliers to air key concerns with.

“This is a group of people that are looking at the business from the outside and providing constructive feedback on how we are walking the talk.

“Through this group we are also getting feedback from the field and the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with our growers.”

Steve Smith, an avocado grower of four years and chair of the group is passionate about assisting growers and especially about sharing his knowledge gained through the journey of his own orchard purchase and its rejuvenation from a run-down state.

“As a relatively new grower with a background in communications and primary production I would like to think I can be a useful point of contact for growers as well as providing Just Avocados with input to their programmes and strategies. Both parties are dependent on each other for success and the advisory group is a means to achieve this.

“If I have a particular area of expertise, it is probably understanding what new growers are going through or the questions that prospective growers should be asking.”

Steve says his journey into the avocado industry has been a huge learning curve but feels he is at the point now where he is making good decisions and can share some of that wisdom.

The group is currently made up for four growers with a diverse mix of experience but with a shared passion for avocados and the New Zealand industry. David French from Glenbrook Beach, near the Manukau Harbour has been growing avocados with wife Jocelyn for 16 years. He served on the NZAGA Board as a grower representative for several years up until 2015 and has recently covered his orchard with an overhead canopy.

Iain McGillivray from Katikati has been growing avocados for 11 years and along with wife Liz, is very involved in industry activity and technical trials. They assisted the industry by participating in an audit with Chinese officials in 2018 when the New Zealand industry was going through the process to gain access to China.

Grant Kokich from Ngataki in the Far North has been growing avocados for 10 years. He is continuing to convert his land and develop high density plantings and is achieving production yield in excess of 20 tonnes per hectare on two orchards managed with wife Samantha.

Andrew says that the benefit to growers of this group is that they have a semi-independent point of contact that they can discuss their issues with without the perception of having a marketing or sales pitch being put to them.

“Across the Grower Advisory Group there is some really interesting experience and knowledge and because they are Just Avocado suppliers, they also understand the bumps in the road and can give their view on things and share why they are doing what they are doing.”

Contact details for members of the Just Avocados Grower Advisory Group are available on the Just Avocados website: www.justavocados/about-us


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