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Key account manager appointed


Leading Australian pineapple, mango and strawberry producer, Piñata Farms, has appointed fourth generation producer Rebecca Scurr as key account manager.

Key account manager Rebecca Scurr holds a pinepaple in the field at Pinata Farms, Wamuran
Rebecca Scurr is appointed to manage the sales of all fruit lines to supermarkets nationally.

Ms Scurr is from the Queensland-based family which has produced pineapples in the Sunshine Coast region since the 1960s. She is based at Piñata Farms' Wamuran headquarters, north of Brisbane.

Ms Scurr, 23, manages the sales of Piñata Farm's Mareeba Gold pineapples, strawberries and specialty Honey Gold mangoes to supermarket, wholesale and value-add customers including the juice and fresh-cut markets nationally.

Piñata Farms and more than 40 contracted growers supply approximately 700,000 trays of pineapples a year, up to 500,000 trays of Honey Gold mangoes between November and March and about 600,000 of strawberries a season.

Mentored by her father and managing director Gavin Scurr, who acquired and rebranded the family business alongside his brother Stephen in the 1980s, Ms Scurr said there were enormous opportunities for young people in Australian horticulture.

"As a generation, mine might be demanding in terms of what we want to achieve, but we're also prepared to work hard to exceed our customers' expectations and reach our goals," Ms Scurr said.

"The industry needs young people - we have fresh ideas, vision and passion. While targets are important in any sales environment, customers also want creative ideas on a big scale and you have to have the commitment and dedication to deliver that."  

Farm returns a challenge

Ms Scurr said her primary challenge was managing supply with customer demands while ensuring stable farm returns.

"There are so many variables in fresh produce as forecasted volumes frequently change and we have to constantly negotiate quantities and set pricing around that. It must be effortless for the customer to buy from us. It's my job to make it easy, and a pleasure, to do business with us."

Ms Scurr said there was an authenticity to being on the farm every day as she could check crops at any time and give customers real-world updates based on what she had seen herself.

Focus on flavour

"The end customer is also extremely important to us. With fresh fruit, the focus has to be on flavour. It takes more than getting a product through the QA door. It's absolutely critical that the consumer enjoys the product and wants more of it, so marketing has to be a part of the farming effort.

"For us, that starts with varietal selection and nurturing the product carefully right along the supply chain as well as meeting quality standards. We invest a lot in research and development, pay close attention to harvest timing and techniques such as ripening and achieving the right colour stage to appeal to the consumer. We also use feedback from our customers and industry leaders as constructive ways to improve our products.

"The fresh fruit industry is an exciting sector to be involved in because you are selling fresh Australian produce that you've grown yourself and know is healthy. When you've got quality products, you can stand behind them, knowing they need little modification," she said.

Ms Scurr said she considered her father, Gavin and uncle, Stephen - who is the North Queensland operations manager - as role models and mentors within the fast-paced fresh produce arena.

"My father has always had a passion for farming and strong relationships with customers. He has endless drive and a competitive edge that has been an incredible learning for me. Both he and Stephen ooze such enthusiasm for our products, that people want to do business with us because of them," she said.

Ms Scurr has held various roles at Piñata Farms since graduating from university in 2010. Prior to her appointment, she was Honey Gold mango product co-ordinator and primary contact for Piñata Farm's 35 third party mango growers around Australia.

While she did not set out to work within the family business, Ms Scurr said the "switch flicked on" when she was working part time during her university years.

"The people who work in this industry genuinely love what they do and that is very inspiring. You meet influential customers who have redefined how fresh produce is marketed in this country and you are exposed to new ideas and concepts. It is very exciting to be part of it."  

Ms Scurr has a Bachelor of Business Management (International Business major) from the University of Queensland.