The National Fruit Fly Council (NFFC) welcomed John Webster as the new Independent Chairperson in February 2023.

John is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and brings a wealth of senior executive experience, coupled with several Chair and member tenures in industry and Research Development & Extension groups. He has a thorough working knowledge of national horticulture issues, including fruit fly.

During his 40-year career, John has established solid relationships with key stakeholders including the Commonwealth government, major supermarkets and state produce markets. His extensive experience as an influential communicator and leader is demonstrated in his previous role as national CEO of Foodbank, a not-for-profit hunger relief organization.

John also runs a consulting company that focusses on strategy development, market access, operational effectiveness, supply chain integrity and performance measurement in agriculture.

Q&A with John

Tell us a bit about yourself, your education, and career.

The first fruit I can recall eating was on our farm between Armidale and Inverell in New South Wales as a very young lad, mulberries, pears and quinces come to mind.  After school I embarked on an Economics degree focusing on law and economics. I joined the Bureau of Agricultural Economics after uni, then spent time in the wool, meat, and horticulture industries in R&D and marketing (I was appointed the inaugural Managing Director of Horticulture Australia, now HIA) and Foodbank.  My early memories must be the reason of a lifetime in agriculture and food for which I am very thankful.

What does a typical day at the office look like for you?

Thank goodness for Teams and Zoom or my answer would be heading to the airport.  I attend a myriad of virtual meetings with great people, addressing very significant issues and I spend quite some time keeping abreast of the topics relating to each entity I’m involved in. My days are certainly never boring.

What motivates you to continue doing the work you do?

The opportunity to utilise a lifetime of experiences in areas of great importance to Australia’s agriculture industries.

What are you most proud of in the work you do?

Delivery of genuine commercial benefits for Australian farmers and watching the personal growth of people for whom you have a responsibility.

What is your vision for the future of the fruit fly system in Australia?

The NFFC’s vision for the Fruit Fly System in Australia is a vision crafted by industry, governments and researchers who all have great expertise in the area.  My vision is to ensure we manage fruit flies in Australia by establishing clear performance indicators and achieving them.

What are your hobbies or what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I greatly enjoy golf which I began after I retired from executive roles – it turns out that becoming a champion is difficult if you start late.