ANZCO founder wins international award

New Zealand meat industry pioneer Sir Graeme Harrison has taken out the 2016 Rabobank Leadership Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors.

Sir Graeme Harrison

Sir Graeme, the founder and chair of one of New Zealand’s largest exporters, ANZCO Foods, was presented with the trans-Tasman award at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Sydney, Australia, last night.

It is the second year in a row a New Zealander has taken out the honour. Former Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden was the recipient of the award in 2015.

Presenting the award, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Peter Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “true champion of agribusiness”, who had made an enormous contribution not only as a New Zealand business leader, but also in the international meat industry trade.

“As founder of ANZCO Foods, Graeme Harrison has accomplished the extraordinary achievement of building a business from nothing to one that today has an annual turnover of NZ$1.5 billion and which employs more than 3000 people across New Zealand and eight overseas locations, and which markets into more than 80 countries,” Mr Knoblanche said.

“What makes this even more outstanding is that he has achieved this in an environment and over a time that has been notoriously challenging for the meat sector in New Zealand, with ANZCO formed in the wake of the deregulation of the New Zealand economy and agricultural sector.”

Mr Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “natural entrepreneur who is a passionate advocate for New Zealand agribusiness, championing the potential of the country’s agricultural, forestry and seafood industries at every opportunity”.

“He sees enormous potential in agribusiness as the sector that comprises the largest part of New Zealand’s exports and he determinedly and energetically works to further its prospects and promote its interests,” Mr Knoblanche said.

Accepting his award, Sir Graeme said the agribusiness sector made an enormous contribution to New Zealand’s economic wellbeing. “New Zealand’s competitive advantage lies with the land, and the agrifoods sector accounts for over 70 percent of the country’s merchandise trade. If you work it back to GDP, effectively one in four dollars is generated from the land-based sector in one form or other.”

The peer-nominated and judged Rabobank Leadership Award is presented annually to individuals who create sustainable growth and prosperity at both a corporate and industry level in the food and agribusiness industries, while demonstrating wider commitment to society.

Previous recipients include food and agri-corporate leaders John Watson, Max Ould, John McLean, Nick Burton-Taylor, Robert Hill-Smith, Barry Irvin and Sir George Fistonich as well as leading food scientists Dr Bruce Lee and Dr Jim Peacock, and Australian industry organisation leader Mick Keogh.

Recipient of this year’s Rabobank Emerging Leader – an award category introduced in 2013 recognising up-and-coming young leaders in agriculture – was the founder and CEO of herb grower and distributor Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs, Jan Vydra.

The winners were presented with their awards in front of more than 200 agribusiness leaders and industry professionals at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner, held at Doltone House in Sydney. Keynote speaker was CEO and managing director of leading natural health care company Blackmores, Christine Holgate.

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