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Helping growers implement a strong food safety culture can improve productivity within their business
Australian Andrew McKillop is visiting New Zealand early next month attending the Avocado Congress in Auckland as part of his Nuffield Scholarship project. As part of the trip Andrew would like the opportunity to meet with interested growers or food processing businesses.
(Andrew) I have been involved in the horticultural industry for 20 years in various roles. The majority of my experience has come from marketing and business management within crops such as tomatoes, avocados, strawberries, mangoes, capsicum, pineapple, melons and cucumbers. As part of my roles over the years I have been undertaking compliance activities around food safety within these businesses. During an employment stint with a large scale hydroponic cucumber producer, where I was the General Manager, I developed these skills further to include external training in HACCP and more recently the Freshcare system.
My current role was developed following the changes in the Australian horticultural industry with the adoption of the HARPS program across the supply chain. Growers were struggling to implement the new system and understand the requirements needed to achieve compliance and thus certification. The Avolution, being a marketing company focusing on domestic and export supply of avocados, saw a need to provide this skillset to their grower supplier base. With an ever changing compliance landscape it makes it difficult for growers to comprehend these changes especially smaller to medium size enterprises where there are little to no resources to employ specialists in this field.
Recognising this changing landscape and how it’s impacting growers I applied for a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2021. My project application was focused on how growers implementing a strong food safety culture can improve productivity within their business. Given the restrictions that COVID had on us all my studies didn’t commence until 2022. This included two weeks, during March, in the UK at the Contemporary Scholars Conference where 140 international scholars met to discuss global agricultural issues. In June, myself and 9 other scholars from Australia and internationally undertook a Global Focus Program visiting Singapore, The Netherlands, Canada and the US over a 4 1/2 week period. This intensive GFP focused on agricultural innovation on a global scale. The final part of my study will be individual travel concentrating on my study topic.
During my visit to NZ I will attending the World Avocado Congress in Auckland, however, prior to this I would really like to visit growers to discuss food safety and how the implementation of such systems impacts their operations at a practical level. Moreover, whether the adoption of a stronger food safety culture within their business has led to improvements in their operations – in practical terms what have they done to achieve this?
Email Andrew Mckillop firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to organise a meeting.