Friday, July 1, 2022

O’Connor moves on

Moving on from the 2002-2005 price doldrums to relatively stable prices since, and working with “quality” people committed to the deer industry, are highlights for departing DINZ CEO Mark O’Connor.

After 13 years, eight years as chief executive, O’Connor is calling it quits to take on new challenges with a family owned private investment company.

Looking back he mentions several initiatives and projects that DINZ has supported. In the velvet sector market development efforts with South Korea and China are starting to pay dividends, a good example being the work under way with a large New Zealand company on registration of a velvet product.

“It’s great because that’s where the future for velvet is.”

He says probably not enough has been communicated about the venison promotion work in Europe, which has helped raise the profile and consumption of NZ venison.

“Between 2005 and 2009 we carried out 300 joint promotions with importers and exporters and handed out 60,000 samples of venison to European consumers.”

The Focus Farm programme driven by Tony Pearce and Amy Wills is another popular and productive development and was a welcome out-of-office highlight for O’Connor.

“I have great memories of standing with 100-plus farmers on a beautiful sunny day at White Rocks Station.”

Whether DINZ would remain a separate stand-alone entity or merge in the future with Beef + Lamb was not something he would speculate on.

“We always have to be mindful of what’s best for the deer farmer … if it’s a single red meat agency with good strong government connection and all that goes with it, perhaps we need to consider it.”

But the DINZ model worked well because of the 50:50 producer and marketer/processor representation at board level creating a shared sense of commitment.

“That sense of destiny and ownership is good.”

O’Connor will step aside soon after the DINZ conference in May.

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