Tony Fissette

Pictured: Tony Fissette receiving the 2018 New Zealand Apples & Pears Award for Outstanding Contribution from New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor.

A pioneer of New Zealand pipfruit sales (apples and pears) into Europe has been officially recognised by his Kiwi peers at a special gala dinner evening in Christchurch.

T&G Global’s general manager in Europe, Tony Fissette, who lives in Belgium, has worked passionately for New Zealand apple and pear growers for 44 years, promoting the New Zealand industry within the European sales environment.

His role in pioneering a place for New Zealand apples and pears on the European stage was recognised last night when he was presented with the 2018 New Zealand Apples & Pears Award for Outstanding Contribution at a Horticulture New Zealand conference gala dinner.

Tony successfully introduced the New Zealand Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties onto the European market, and in more recent years premium JAZZ™ and Envy™ apples.

Just 10 years ago, Tony and his team celebrated selling 100 million cartons of New Zealand apples in Europe. And a few weeks back, they reached 10 million carton sales of JAZZ™ alone thanks to Tony’s leadership and passion.

T&G’s executive general manager pipfruit, Darren Drury says Tony, through his experience and knowledge, has long been a keen advocate of innovation and the need to develop the right varieties for the right market.

“Tony always has the growers’ interests at heart and is driven to achieve the highest prices possible for them. His drive and commitment have been acknowledged through various awards in Europe but it’s particularly nice that is has been recognised here in New Zealand given his significant contribution to our apple industry which is now worth $700 million and growing,” Darren continues. “Tony has also made a substantial contribution to the success of T&G post deregulation as we continue to build our presence on the world stage.”

Tony started his career with his family business which eventually became the European sales office for the former NZ Apple and Pear Board. He will retire from his role in 2019 after having served 45 years of promoting New Zealand pipfruit in Europe.

Other recipients at the Horticulture Conference awards were Zespri chair, Peter McBride who was presented with the Bledisloe Cup – one of three cups Lord Bledisloe presented to New Zealand in 1931. It celebrates a person who has made an outstanding and meritorious contribution to the New Zealand horticulture industry.

Other awards presented were the inaugural Environmental Award which went to kiwifruit grower James Trevelyan from the Bay of Plenty; the President’s Trophy which was awarded to grower and orchardist Tim Egan from Gisborne. Industry Service awards were presented to Garry Elliott (a pioneer of herbicide applications on onions) and Graham Martin who organised the first Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition in New Zealand and lastly Earnscy Weaver who was presented with a Life Membership of Horticulture Canterbury.