Two long serving growers are stepping up to the Avoco Grower Relationship Committee (AGRC). The appointments of Ross Woods and John Cotterell follow the death of Malcolm Stratton in August. Malcolm represented the Team Avocado Growers from the South Auckland region and had served on the AGRC since its inception in 2013. 

The huge experience of Ross and John is welcomed by Avoco during a time of some uncertainty in the industry with disruptions to shipping services due to COVID-19. 

Based in the Far North, Ross has been in the avocado industry for over 20 years. He is keen to roll up his sleeves and get advocating for growers in the role. Ross would like to see Avoco remain a strong market player and that growers and marketers mutually benefit by a close relationship that can place excellent avocado product in diversified markets while giving growers a good orchard gate return (OGR). Ross is pleased the AGRC role will give him the opportunity to communicate closer with marketers and other areas of the industry. 

“This will give growers the opportunities to highlight things that may have an influence on marketing decisions at a regional or national level,” he says. 

“The Far North and Mid North areas are so different from the Bay of Plenty area that we have to ensure that we are in their ear at times. Examples of this may be environmental challenges, labour challenges, pest or political challenges. If I bring any of these challenges to a meeting with appropriate emphasis, then I am fulfilling one of my key roles.” 

Ross acknowledges that avocado growers are living in challenging times and need to support one another.  

“I don’t believe that it is all doom and gloom with pricing or COVID-19 and I suppose I’m an optimist. OGRs will be a challenge for some growers. I’d like to be in a position to reassure growers that Avoco’s plans and structure are in a sound position to take us all forward in a sustainable manner.”   

Away from work, Ross and wife Kathy like to travel while engaging in their passion for scuba diving. They have been to countries such as the Galapagos Islands and love the fishing and diving opportunities the Far North offers.  

John Cotterell 

Based near Katikati in The Bay of Plenty, John has been in the industry for 22 years, ever since he and wife Cindy bought their orchard in 1999. At that time, 4.1ha was planted in avocados. 

“In 2016 we bought a neighbouring property which had 1.0ha planted in avocados, we have since planted another 5.4ha to give us a total area of 10.5ha of avocados,” he says. 

He also managed a 40ha avocado development for an absentee American owner for three years from 2006 to 2009.

 “I started working part time for Team Horticulture Ltd and then in April 2010 with Southern Produce Ltd as a Growers Services Representative which ended after 10 years of employment,” he says. 

While working at Team Horticulture, John also worked part time for Riversun Nursery from August 2009 to November 2010.

A man who likes to keep busy in the industry, John has past experience on boards which he is keen to utilise in the AGRC role. He served as a Team Avocado Trustee from August 2004 to August 2010 and was a New Zealand Avocado Board Director for eight years from 2011 to August 2019. 

 Since July 2019, John has been working full time on his orchard. When he and Cindy aren’t on the orchard, they enjoy spending time at their house at Lake Rotoiti fishing for trout or socialising with family and friends.