NZ Hops appointed Craig Orr in December as their new CEO and he officially took charge in February.
No stranger to New Zealand’s food and drink industry, Craig has years of experience in building brands and supporting NZ products in the global marketplace. He has his eye on a strategy designed to deliver continued growth for NZ Hops and closer relationships with you, our brewers and customers.
By way of a super quick introduction to a man you’ll be hearing a lot more from, we hit him up with 5 quick questions:
What attracted you to the hops industry?
It's very simple really. Hops means beer. But in a professional sense, we're possibly sitting on one of the most unsung heroes of the global brewing phenomena known as ‘craft’ beer industry explosion. Actually, hops have been around since the middle ages so I should qualify that a little. The sector has fairly presented itself as the next ‘big thing’ in horticulture, which has attracted a lot of interest from new and future entrants. The Board at NZ Hops have recognised a desire to shift gears and meet these new challenges. So, the real attraction for me was this new mandate to lead the Coop to develop a sustainable growth pathway.
Can you share your vision for NZ Hops - the overarching strategy?
We’re a coop of 28 phenomenal hop farmers, each their own specific history and expertise in growing hops, many for generations, in this paradise known as Tasman. You cannot buy into that without a carefully crafted insight to what makes these hops so special. Our overarching goals will be to bring these stories and brands of hops to life with a mix of product launch initiatives, new campaigns and more importantly closer customer connections.
What can we expect to see in the foreseeable future?
Hopping straight to it, we’re excited to launch our new cultivar Hort 4337 this March, which has been in the pipeline for a mere 17 years! It’s got serious pedigree and throughout our commercialisation phase, proven to be a yield winner. Brewers who’ve participated in our trials are raving about its flavour profile and performance in the glass. We’re taking it offshore to our key markets also as a catalyst to overall brand and product development plans, so we have high aspirations ahead. Is it the next Nelson Sauvin…?
Every product has its own unique DNA, what makes NZ grown hops special?
The climate, our natural resources, coupled with the pedigree and experience of our growers all build the provenance of our hops. We blend the hops here in Tasman, close to their roots ensuring the highest quality product. Our industry is supported by a pipeline of innovation, lead by Ron Beatson and his team and Plant & Food. Their passion permeates through our plans, and all this knits our DNA together.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Well, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a well-stocked office fridge full of our brewers latest beers!
Above all, it's simple. Meeting with a bunch of great customers and talking through individual plans, working out how we can deliver to those aspirations. I’m keen to nut out how we best convert new ideas into more 'fields of green’. I’m talking with a lot of our growers and they also are wanting to be better connected, ensuring we are valued as partners, not simply as suppliers.
Craig is ready to get into the Hops sector boots and all. He has already been out and about the Hop farms in the sunny Tasman region, where the farmers are busy gearing up for another great harvest.
His diary is also filling quickly with plans to visit customers and markets, gaining an essential understanding of each customer’s unique needs.
Craig is a beer man – he’ll enjoy getting to know you over a glass of the good stuff!