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Board of Directors

Michael Worthington

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Chairman, Fresh Produce Safety Centre

Michael Worthington was named CEO of Produce Marketing Association of Australia New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) in October of 2009, and retired from that position in October 2016. Michael served on the PMA A-NZ Council for three years prior to the establishment of PMA A-NZ Limited. Michael has 30 years senior management experience in large scale agribusiness with operational experience in a broad range of enterprises particularly in production, processing, supply chain logistics, sales & marketing (Australia, Asian, UK and US markets).

As CEO for PMA A-NZ, Michael’s responsibilities included providing the full range of administrative functions, including supplying executive services to the board of directors and associated task forces, undertaking local member relations, sourcing and delivering relevant information for the local trans-Tasman industry, managing the annual Fresh Connections conference and handling local media relations. Michael also worked closely with PMA’s US headquarters staff to help build and strengthen the two-way partnership.

Allison Clark

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Allison Clark is the General Manager Innovation & Marketing for Houston’s Farm. She is also a member of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) Food Safety Centre Advisory Committee. Allison has extensive experience across the fresh produce supply chain (growing, processing, transport, wholesale, through to retail) and has had experience engaging with a number of peak industry bodies along with regulatory bodies including FSANZ and the Tasmanian State Training Authority. She has been involved in projects of national significance associated with food safety and compliance including the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries National Food Safety Auditor Management Framework Feasibility Study and FSANZ Identification of Food Safety Systems in Australian Primary Production Industries.

She has undertaken technical roles in high risk processing operations (including fresh cut salads) which have encompassed design and development of systems, managing compliance elements, undertaking internal audits and training team members. Allison was Chair of the Fresh Salad Producers Forum which developed the Good Agricultural Practices Guide for the Australian Freshcut Salad Industry and she still maintains a role in providing advice to this industry segment when sought. She was also part of the team which developed the successful ARC Training Centre for Innovative Horticultural Products. Houston’s Farm Research and Development remains a Project Organization for this Centre. Allison holds an Executive Certificate in Food Business Management (Monash) and has completed an MBA (Agricultural Innovation) through the University of Tasmania.

Joseph Ekman

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Joseph Ekman is Fresh Produce Group’s Technical Director, responsible for leading the team responsible for food safety and quality compliance, product technology and quality control. His role is to provide technical security for Fresh Produce Group’s diverse and innovative fresh produce programs.

With an honors degree in postharvest management of fresh produce and 28 years of research, extension and industry experience, Joe brings a unique blend of theoretical and practical knowledge to his role.

Joe has extensive knowledge, skills and sector experience in on-farm and supply chain food safety, quality and environmental issues. Joe is a qualified food safety trainer and auditor. He is a founding member of the national horticulture industry working group that researched, designed and delivered fresh produce sector food safety guidelines and contributed to the design and development of the Freshcare on-farm food safety program.

Joe’s history in research, extension and technology transfer roles plus direct industry experience means he understands the opportunities and challenges for identifying risks and translating scientific research into industry practice.

Belinda Hazell

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Belinda Hazell has extensive experience in the horticultural and agricultural sector, spanning more than 25 years, including the family businesses of Hazell Bros Group (Agricultural Division) and more recently, 3rd Rock Agriculture. In 1998, Belinda was awarded the Tasmanian Farm Business Development Award for micropropagation of apple rootstocks. Since 2003, Belinda has been a principal management system consultant with Optimum Standard, responsible for design, development and implementation of systems and provision of ongoing business support to clients across a range of food safety systems including Freshcare, WQA, BRC, SQF, GlobalGAP, ISO 22000 and HACCP.

Belinda is the Chair of Freshcare Limited, an industry owned, not-for-profit on-farm assurance program, established and maintained to service over 5,000 members of the Australian fresh produce industry. She currently sits on the Freshcare Food Safety Technical Committee and Environmental Technical Committee to identify and /or address issues raised by stakeholder groups. Belinda has previously contracted as a Lead Project Manager for TQA Australia, overseeing their client portfolio and significant agribusiness project portfolio across Australia.

Belinda has extensive project management experience and holds a Cert IV in Training and Assessment (2009), a Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety (2008), an Advanced Diploma in Production Horticulture (1999) and is a Graduate of the Tasmanian Rural Leadership Program (1998). In 2012 Belinda commenced an MBA specialising in Agricultural Innovation at the University of Tasmania. In May 2014 Belinda was presented with a Tasmanian Women in Agriculture Award for Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture, and in 2016 was a Tasmanian Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2016 – Corporate and Private Sector.

Robyn McConchie

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Professor Robyn McConchie is Head of the Department of Plant and Food Sciences in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney. She has been involved in postharvest research and education for over 30 years working on minimising pesticide use, and more recently food safety, grain storage and development of functional foods from waste. Robyn has led many international research and capacity building projects in postharvest and linking farmers to markets across SE Asia, the Pacific and Africa. For the past three years she has been working to address food security issues across 22 African countries, through improved storage and safety of grains.

From 2006 to 2010 Robyn was Director of the University’s Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific. Robyn was a convener of the 7th International Symposium on Education, Research Training & Consultancy at the International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane, August 2014. Robyn is currently a nonexecutive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Catherine Richardson

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Catherine Richardson has spent 30 years working in the quality and technical areas of New Zealand’s two major fresh fruit industries, Kiwifruit and Pipfruit. She was a member of the small team that developed the initial quality system that has underpinned the internationally successful NZ Kiwifruit industry and played a key role in a number of significant industry development initiatives including the introduction of Integrated Pest Management programme throughout the industry. She then moved to the Pipfruit industry as National Technical Manager for the NZ Apple and Pear Marketing Board where she was responsible for the Board’s substantial research program and quality management program.

In 2009, after several years travelling and living in UK, Catherine returned to the Kiwifruit Industry as Quality Manager for Zespri International Ltd, leading a team responsible for understanding the requirements of customers in over 60 different countries and ensuring that Zespri product meets these needs. She is passionate about the fresh fruit industry and the importance of constantly striving to provide consumers with fruit that is safe, sound, sustainable and, above all, provides an outstanding eating experience.

Roger Gilbertson

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Roger  Gilbertson is the Technical Manager (Market Access & Regulatory Affairs) for Pipfruit New Zealand and consults to a range of businesses in the fresh produce sector. Roger has worked at the forefront of New Zealand horticulture and the broader plants industry for nearly 30 years since graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) in the late 1980s.

After an initial grounding with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in the Coromandel Peninsula and latterly Bay of Plenty as a technical/grower advisor, he moved his attention to export systems development and business process improvement. Roger’s move to ENZA in the mid 1990s saw him and his teams develop bespoke customer assurance programs at a pivotal time when food safety, residue assurance and GAP were just beginning to make their mark in export and domestic requirements.

He has transitioned a number of companies since the early 2000s to very customer focused businesses and successfully integrated market and customer requirements in these businesses as part of everyday practice. In late 2011 he left Zespri as their Market Assurance Manager to work more broadly in the fresh produce sector including his current PipfruitNZ role.

Roger appreciates how the FPSC role looks to shaping the part food safety plays in the bigger fresh produce picture. He wants to ensure the risks for the fresh produce sector are well understood, and programs are efficiently implemented in line with managing these risks.

He brings practical experience in implementing assurance programs and a technical understanding of risk in the supply chain. His involvement in a variety of fresh produce sectors in various business/technical manager and consultant roles has meant he’s seen food safety evolve from a passing interest in agrichemical use in the early 1990s to an integral component of the fresh produce supply chain now.