HILL NEWS FEBRUARY 2023 - Update From Our CEO, Dr Jonno Hill | Hill Laboratories - NZ


HILL NEWS FEBRUARY 2023 - Update From Our CEO, Dr Jonno Hill

Date: 13 Feb 2023

First of all, I, along with the rest of the country, have been watching and reading the news recently, aghast at the destruction wrought by Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle, especially upon the Hawkes Bay.  On behalf of everyone here at Hill Labs, our thoughts go out to all those who have suffered losses from that terrible storm.  The suffering of some is almost unthinkable.

Even before Gabrielle, it had been a turbulent start to the year for the North Island, while the South Island has been enjoying a much better summer.  The damage relating to floods and slips in the top half of the North Island has been well-reported, and in particular we were hearing about the devastating impact on beekeepers, particular for producers of Mānuka honey.

Even before all the terrible weather, we were expecting 2023 to be a challenging year.  The inflationary economic environment continues, with CPI to the end of December at 7.2%, and the minimum wage to increase by 7.1% on April 1st.  Furthermore, one of the impacts that Cyclone Gabrielle's destruction in the Hawkes Bay – an important food-producing region for the country – will have, will be to create further inflationary pressure around the price of many food items.  It is hard to not feel at least a little nervous about the economic situation in front of all of us. 

Nevertheless, primary industry producers will continue battling through challenging times to do the best that they are able to.  Here at Hill Labs, we have fortunately not experienced any damage to any of our laboratories, and so we are able to continue supporting our customers in the primary industries and across many parts of the economy.  We are seeing an increasing number of honey samples arrive at the lab for the wide range of testing that we offer, as part of our typical honey ‘busy season’.  This overlaps with our busy season for pesticide residue testing on horticultural exports, and the kiwifruit maturity testing that we do for Zespri.  It is good to see these operational teams stepping up activity and capacity, as they do every year, to meet the seasonal demand for analyses.  Our Bay of Plenty team, in particular, has been busy bringing on over 200 new seasonal staff over the last two months, to work across our sample collection and lab-based teams for the kiwifruit maturity testing season.  This is our third year doing this now, so the processes and systems are becoming well-embedded, and the team is doing a great job.

For those of you who have suffered losses in recent weeks, I hope you’re able to draw strength from your family, friends and community.  And if, like us, your businesses are lucky enough to have been relatively unscathed by the cyclone, then I hope you count yourself lucky, and show compassion and care for those who are less fortunate.  If there is one silver lining to come out of adversity, it is the way that it brings out the best in most people, reminding us how connected and interdependent we all are.