‘We are delighted to announce that Roger Gilbertson has accepted our invitation to join the Board of FPSC,’ said FPSC Chair, Michael Worthington.

Roger appreciates how the role enables him to take a step back from implementing market/customer assurance programs (including food safety) and looks to shaping the role food safety plays in the bigger fresh produce picture. ‘In particular, I want to ensure the risks for the fresh produce sector are well understood, and programs are efficiently implemented in line with managing these risks,’ Roger said.

Roger brings practical experience in implementing assurance programs and a technical understanding of risk in the supply chain. His involvement in a variety of fresh produce sectors in various business/technical manager and consultant roles has meant he’s seen food safety evolve from a passing interest in agrichemical use in the early 1990s to an integral component of the fresh produce supply chain now.

‘I have worked with, and in, regulatory organisations as well as the commercial environment,’ Roger said, ‘and have found that I can straddle both the regulatory and commercial interests to the advantage of both parties.’

The NZ fresh produce sector has significant growth aspirations, with New Zealand supplying a wide range of products to an increasingly diverse range of markets and customers. ‘The more we are engaged with markets and customers—particularly at a strategic level—the better we can translate their needs,’ said Roger.

‘Through experience I’ve found it is very easy to over-engineer compliance/assurance programs,’ he said. ‘It is important, when looking at food safety, to also maintain efficiencies and keep control of costs. We need to ensure food safety requirements are understood and readily applied by all.’

Roger is Technical Manager (Market Access & Regulatory Affairs) for Pipfruit New Zealand. Since graduating in the late 1980s with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours), he has spent over 25 years at the forefront of New Zealand horticulture and the broader plants industry.