Alterra's new chief operating and technical officer Brett Heather

Alterra strengthens management to drive avocado play

Western Australia agribusiness player, Alterra, is angling to take a slice of the high-value avocado sector and is strengthening its management team with the appointment of Brett Heather as its chief operating and technical officer.

Mr Heather has over 17 years of experience in retail engagement, supply chain planning, marketing, on-farm agronomic developments, quality assurance, post-harvest management and product innovations.

He has worked extensively with horticultural genetics programs, having developed strategies for the commercial rollout of genetics across numerous high-value crops.

Alterra Managing Director Oliver Barnes said: "Brett has extensive experience working in highly competitive customer focussed retail environments supplying Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK and Aldi, Coles and Woolworths in Australia.”

“Brett’s previous role in transforming the avocado category with one of Australia’s leading retailers by driving cost efficiencies from field to fork, improving post-harvest handling and implementing technology to provide consumers a ‘ripe and ready’ product offering means his skills will be put to immediate use.”

“In the long-term Brett’s unique industry relationships and insight to market trends will complement Alterra’s executive team as we focus on our strategy of transforming under-utilised land and water assets into the next generation of agricultural assets capable of supplying premium whole foods that consumers increasingly demand as part of a shift towards plant-based diets.”

Mr Heather’s appointment is the latest in a string of new hires that Alterra has made as it advances a pipeline of near-term agribusiness opportunities, particularly in the avocado sector.

Last month, the company appointment experienced corporate accountant John Palermo as a non-executive director while in April, it reached an exclusive technical partner agreement with horticultural expert Tyson Bennett, who specialises in the outperformance of high-value tree crops.

Highlighting the growing demand for avocados, Australian horticultural company Costa Group recently upgraded its packing facility in Queensland to allow for increased production in the coming years to meet export requirements.

Australian avocado production hit 77,032 tonnes in the 2018 financial year, nearly double production of 39,394 tonnes a decade ago, according to peak industry body Avocados Australia.

During the same period, the gross value of production rose from $127m to $557m whilst exports increased from $4.2m to $11.6m.


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