Nov 10 2020

November 2020 update

TomatoesNZ 2020 AGM

We held our Annual General Meeting online by Zoom on 25th September 2020. 

Whilst it was a bit different to a face to face meeting, restrictions due to Covid-19 meant the ability to do it by zoom was a pretty effective alternative, and 28 growers and associates joined the meeting.

Barry O’Neil talked on the new fresh tomato industry strategy developed by the board earlier this year, noting that TomatoesNZ is well placed to meet the challenges ahead.  

Helen updated on key areas that we’d invested in this year, including R&D, automation, biosecurity, capacity building and a strong focus on looking at energy efficiency options for growers.  She also advised of plans to tell the NZ tomato growing story more widely and raise the profile of the industry.

Two retiring board members were recognised for their contributions to the industry.  Lex Dillion, from NZ Hothouse, retired at the AGM following over twenty years of service.  Edward Lee, a grower in South Auckland who is no longer growing tomatoes, was thanked for his three years on the board and help in several areas including translation and communication of key information to Chinese growers.

Both fresh tomato levy rates were confirmed and remain the same at 0.35% for the commodity levy, and 0.10% for the biosecurity levy at first point of sale.  

Covered Crops Remit

Roelf Schreuder, Production Director Protected Crops at New Zealand Gourmet, spoke to the remit he had proposed:

That TomatoesNZ Inc. and Vegetables NZ Inc develop options for, and an opportunity to vote on, combining covered crops under one representative product group or body.

The remit was supported at both the TomatoesNZ and Vegetables NZ Inc AGMs.

A small working group of members of TNZ and VNZI members will develop a proposal for consultation with all members in the first half of next year.

This will include several options or models for a new “combined covered crops” representative body, and their pros and cons, which will then be socialised amongst the members of each product group.  

Members’ most preferred option will be put to a vote (against the status quo), at or around the time of the next AGM, which is scheduled for the 1st week of August 2021.

If you would like to be involved in the process, or have questions please contact any of the staff (Helen or Karen Ph. 04 472 3795) or board.

TomatoesNZ Board

The TomatoesNZ elected and co-opted board members, Chair and Vice Chair have been confirmed as:

Barry O’Neil, Independent Chair

Simon Watson, NZ Hothouse, Elected member, Vice Chair

Anthony Tringham, The Curious Croppers,Elected member

Albert Shih, Vege Fresh Growers Ltd, Elected member.

Mike Saklani, Wing Shing Farms Ltd, Elected member

Callum Grant, Kakanui Tomatoes, Elected member

Pierre Gargiulo, JS Ewers, Co-opted member

Ben Smith, T&G Global, Co-opted member

Stefan Vogrincic, Grower2Grower,Co-opted member

Andrew Hutchinson, T&G Global, Observer

Allen Lim, Jade Garden Produce Ltd., Observer from Vegetables NZ Inc.

There is currently one vacancy for an elected member.


Automation project

TomatoesNZ are pleased to be able to provide funding support towards the first stage of developing a labour-saving robotic solution for greenhouse vegetables by FTEK Limited.   FTEK are a Pukekohe-based engineering company specialising in design and manufacture of greenhouse vegetable crop maintenance equipment. The robotic project is a collaboration with Callaghan Innovation and others.

We will provide more information on the project as it progresses.


Renewable Energy policy

During October, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released their summary of submissions from consultation back in February on accelerating renewable energy and energy efficiency consultation, which we (in conjunction with HortNZ and others) submitted on. 

Proposals consulted on in that document included banning new coal-fired boilers for low and medium temperature requirements; and requiring existing coal-fired process heat equipment for end-use temperature requirements below 100 degrees Celsius to be phased out by 2030.  In the summary of submissions, MBIE acknowledged submitters’ calls for more government support for implementation of new, renewable technologies.    You can read more on this at:

We have recently been gathering information from growers on their  current energy requirements, what energy efficiency methods they are using, and what options are of interest to growers.  We had a good response to the survey we've been running with over 70 greenhouse vegetable growers responding.  The information gathered will help to guide us with looking at cost effective energy options for greenhouse vegetable growers by region, size and crop.  We are currently working through the data to analyse key information and will  report back on this asap.  

Since we made our submission to MBIE earlier this year we have been working closely with the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) on ways to support growers who are looking to make a change to renewable energy sources.  We are pleased to have their involvement with reviewing options for growers and will be advising more on this in the upcoming months.