Former chairman of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, was last night awarded the 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for his tireless efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990’s. Zespri Chairman Peter McBride announced Mr Palmer as this year’s recipient of the kiwifruit industry award at the Hayward Medal Dinner last night, in front of more than 450 people in Mount Maunganui.
“The kiwifruit industry is facing a huge challenge in the form of Psa now but we faced a disaster of equal proportions back in early 1990’s. The financial disaster in 1992 saw the bottom drop out of the market, as prices crashed in an over-supplied European market,” said Mr McBride.
“Industry debt ballooned to more than $100 million, European coolstores were owed millions and there was no bailout from the Government – so growers had to help themselves. Many were bankrupted or had to find other income; around one in four growers were forced off their orchards.
“It was John Palmer, a kiwifruit grower from Nelson and Board member, who stepped up to assume the chairmanship of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board – surely one of the least desirable positions in the country at the time. Seemingly undaunted, John worked day and night throughout the financial crisis, to trade through the 1993 season,” said Mr McBride.
Mr Palmer persisted with packaging partners and they – along with the National Bank – eventually agreed to fund the 1993 season and gave the industry its hope for survival. Thanks to Mr Palmer’s leadership and tireless efforts, the debt was cleared and the industry stabilised two years later.
“John is a brilliant thinker and leader. He showed outstanding leadership when the industry’s future and global credibility was shredded – directly contributing to what became one of the greatest business turn-arounds New Zealand has seen.
“His five years as chairman of the Kiwifruit Marketing Board helped establish our industry for the future,” said Mr McBride.
The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal was presented by Fresh Carriers at the event last night.
“We at Fresh Carriers are proud to have carried over a quarter of a billion trays of New Zealand kiwifruit on our ships for over the past 28 years. Our ships have a fast and direct service to Japan and other Asian markets such as Korea and China,” said Mr Takeshige, President of Fresh Carriers Co Ltd.
“We are also proud to be associated with Zespri over many years, as one of the most important exporters in New Zealand and have taken great satisfaction in being associated with your dynamic development that has placed your industry as the most successful, forward-thinking, cohesive and admired fruit producing and marketing business worldwide.
“There are many who have contributed to this success in a quiet, passionate and committed manner. Fresh Carriers are delighted and proud to sponsor the Hayward Medal which recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry,” said Mr Takeshige.