EXECUTIVE T he 2014 Australian Almond Conference was a highly successful event which enjoyed great support from delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and of course, the
participation in what has been an exciting recent period for the industry and what appears to be a bright future ahead. Even with the rapid growth to become a $600 million industry and Australia’s most valuable horticultural export earner, the almond industry remains inclusive which is a testament to the structures and people that are in place to service the industry. Brendan Sidhu, Tim Orr, Grant Birrell and Laurence Van Driel were re-elected to the Board unopposed to join Neale Bennett, Domenic and Peter Cavallaro, Denis Dinicola, Damien Houlahan and Brenton Woolston to form the ABA Board for 2014/15. Amongst these Directors, most of Australia’s almond production, processing and marketing is represented. The contribution of the Board Directors is significant in terms of the skills, experience and the time they provide. At the AGM it was noted that the Board met formally four times during the year but the contribution of the Directors did not stop there. Tim Orr chaired the Plant Improvement Committee, Peter Cavallaro chaired the Production Committee, Brenton Woolston the Processing Committee, Brendan Sidhu the Market Development and Almond Centre Committees and Grant Birrell the Audit Committee. Other Directors participated as members on these Committees that met three to four times during the year. The ABA Remuneration Committee and the Conference Committee met as required. The contribution of the 33 industry members on the supply chain committees was acknowledged. These members contribute time, knowledge and in some instances, turn over parts of their orchards and facilities as cooperators in the industry R&D program. These industry members help identify gaps in required knowledge and technologies to take the industry forward. They provide assistance and support to researchers and monitor their project’s progress. Chris Joyce’s representation of the nut industry working with government and other industries on market access matters was recognised. The Almond Industry Advisory Committee was acknowledged. The Committee has directed the R&D investment of industry levies and Commonwealth funds wisely, but under the new structure for HAL’s replacement body will cease to exist. Ben Robinson and Greg Buchanan who provided great guidance in their role as Chair of the IAC were thanked for their service to the industry.
presenters and panel members. It’s these people that lie at the heart of this showcase event for the ABA and the industry. Thanks goes to all involved, particularly to the ABA staff who worked as a team to organise and deliver the Conference to such a high standard. Year after year the Conference continues to get better. In a few short years the Conference has outgrown the regional venues and already we are looking for a larger Conference venue than the Stamford Grand Hotel in Adelaide. The presentations from Conference will be distributed to delegates shortly but the abstracts are available to all on the ABA website. A highlight of the Conference was the induction of Mr. Don Rough and Mr. Tom Martin into the Australian Almond Industry Hall of Fame. The attendance at the ABA’s Annual General Meeting was not as impressive as the Conference with fewer than expected members present. The reports by the Chair and CEO to the AGM noted that the ABA’s role as the industry’s peak body is to strive to improve the financial position of industry members and stakeholders and help the industry grow. The tools to achieve this are the industry unity and being able to speak with one voice, to invest and direct investment into R&D and marketing, to share knowledge, and to interact with the broader community, including Government. The Board takes a strategic approach to many challenges whether it be improving yields, determining efficient input levels, addressing emerging pest issues, improving processing results, reducing food safety risks, analysing market potential, or increasing consumer demand. All these issues were addressed during 2013/14. As the industry has rapidly grown so too have the expectations of the ABA. The ABA is undertaking more and more with the same level of staff but with increased funds to invest in R&D and Market Development due to the growth in production. More and more people are becoming involved in the Australian almond industry, whether it be new growers, investors, trading partners, politicians and government staff, researchers, suppliers, media and consumers and we welcome their