Australian Horticultural Exporters’ Association (AHEA) has appointed a long time, experienced industry figure as its inaugural executive director. Jonathan Eccles started last week asAHEA’s first Executive Director. Mr Eccles was previously the chief executive officer of Potatoes South Australia and Australian Banana Growers’ Council where he helped steer the banana industry through the devastating Queensland floods of 2011 and the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi.
In announcing his appointment, Chairman of the Australian Horticultural Exporters’ Association, David Minnis, said he and his fellow directors are delighted to have Jonathan on board to help develop and lead the organisation.
“His skills and wide experience in industry development, communications, marketing, research, market access and leadership will be an asset to the AHEA,” Mr Minnis said.
AHEA is the national peak body representing the interests of Australian horticultural exporting businesses to governments and industry. It is now in the process of restructuring to widen its activities to assist both horticultural importers as well as exporters.
“Many of the issues facing horticultural exporters such as quarantine and market access also face importers so it is logical that the AHEA now represents this sector of the industry at a national level,” Mr Minnis said.
Mr Minnis added that despite fresh fruit and vegetable exports from Australia having dropped $200 million in recent years and challenges such as the high Australian dollar and market access, there are still opportunities for exporting horticultural produce to many countries such as China, Middle East and other Asian destinations.