The 2014 kiwifruit industry excellence award – the Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal – is jointly awarded to Paul Heywood and Leo Mangos for their vision in laying the foundations for today’s industry.
The chairman of the judging panel, Paul Jones, says the two kiwifruit growers worked as a team during the late 1980s to win support from growers and government for a single point of entry for kiwifruit export, allowing growers to own and control their own industry.
The 1988 stock market crash and the subsequent effect on the kiwifruit industry coincided with a steep drop in prices in Europe, the industry’s major market. The industry, which at that point was very fragmented, was heavily at odds over how to recover from its slump.
Nelson kiwifruit grower Paul Heywood was the president of the powerful industry group, the Fruitgrowers’ Federation. Fellow Bay of Plenty grower Leo Mangos was the director of the Bay of Plenty section of the Fruitgrowers’ Federation and chairman of the Labour Party’s Primary Producers’ Council, which set policy for the primary sector.
“With their very different personalities and philosophies, Leo and Paul were both committed to having their industry run by growers and cooperative marketing,” says Mr Jones. “Against strong opposition, they worked tirelessly, speaking at grower meetings up and down the country. The Government at the time was staunchly opposed to marketing boards.
“The group spearheading this was set the Herculean task of getting 80 percent grower support to establish a single desk exporter – something no one thought possible.
“And they did it. Leo and Paul succeeded in persuading 84 percent of growers to back their call for a Kiwifruit Marketing Board with statutory powers to buy all export kiwifruit – a precursor to the Zespri of today,” explains Mr Jones.
Their foresight has allowed New Zealand kiwifruit growers to develop their industry into a global business with concerted investment in branding, marketing, quality, and research and development.
“The industry is looking at strong future growth, as we aim to increase export revenue to $3 billion by 2025, and the single point of entry underpins our confidence to invest in the future. This is why Leo and Paul’s work 25 years ago still has such a powerful impact on the industry today,” says Mr Jones.