Tuesday, 01 August 2023 10:25

Potatoes NZ appoints new CEO

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Kate Trufitt is the new chief executive of Potatoes NZ. Kate Trufitt is the new chief executive of Potatoes NZ.

Potatoes New Zealand has appointed Kate Trufitt as its new chief executive.

A director of Horticulture NZ, she has held many roles in the horticulture sector. According to the Potatoes NZ website, Trufitt has a great breadth of experience from plant nursery, growing, postharvest and processing through to the market - both domestic and export.

This experience has been gained across several horticultural crops. With a career started in marketing and operational logistics, Trufitt then turned her skills to human resources, compliance, health & safety and more recently sustainability.

She has been involved in senior management and governance roles and believes this gives a perfect balance of experience to take the helm of Potatoes NZ.

According to HortNZ's website, Trufitt chairs the Kiwifruit Industry Health and Safety Forum and the NZ Hort Health and Safety Council. She's also a member of the NZ Avocado Packers Forum.

Trufitt will be one of the key speakers at Potatoes NZ's annual conference in Christchurch this month (August). The day-long conference theme revolves around future-proofing NZ potatoes.

Other speakers include economist Cameron Bagrie and industry veteran John Jackson, agriculture director, McCain Foods Australia and New Zealand.

Jackson has been involved in the potato industry for more than 35 years, with experience in crop procurement, strategic planning, research and development, agronomy, and company operations.

Jackson was involved from the inception of McCain Foods, the country's first manufacturing operation which now has two processing plants in New Zealand. These process more than 200,000 tonnes of potatoes and vegetables annually with a permanent workforce of more than 300 employees nationwide.

Another speaker, Agrilink director Andrew Barber, has been involved in agricultural engineering consultancy for 20 years. Barber has extensive experience in project managing complex multi-stakeholder projects. Among his successes is the Franklin Sustainability Project, which was launched in response to soil erosion.

One of his current responsibilities is managing the joint industry project Sustainable Vegetable Systems (SVS), focusing on nitrogen leaching and nutrient budgeting in outdoor vegetable production systems.

Potatoes NZ technical manager Iain Kirkwood will also seak at the conference.

A plant pathology expert, Kirkwood's career in the potato industry started 35 years ago as a potato roguer for seed growers on the east coast of Scotland.

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