Renowned Australian poultry industry professional retires

Dr. Vivien Kite will retire on June 1
calendar icon 26 May 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

Veteran poultry industry professional Dr. Vivien Kite retires on 1 June 2023, after nearly 40 years creating significant and positive change across the poultry sector. 

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF), together with the Australian Poultry Industries Association (APIA) and the broader poultry industry wish her a happy and healthy retirement as she continues to fulfill her passion for travel.

“Viv has made an enormous contribution to the evolution and development of the Australian chicken meat industry, and we very much appreciate her efforts advocating for our industry," said ACMF president Joel Kopanica. "Her dedication, intellect and passion were second-to-none, and we wish her all the best in her retirement.”

In addition to leading the ACMF, Dr Kite was also Executive Director of APIA, and Secretary of the NSW Chicken Meat Council.  

“Viv will be sorely missed by the whole poultry industry," said APIA Chairman, Simon Camilleri. "In her role managing the interface between the poultry industries, broader agricultural industries, regulators and government, Viv was not afraid to be strong and direct in her dealings on issues important to industry. Her focused, science-based, and skilled approach has resulted in many significant outcomes for members. Viv will be missed both professionally and personally.”

Kite graduated with honours from a Bachelor or Rural Science degree from the University of New England (UNE) in 1979 and soon after was awarded a PhD in hen physiology and behaviour. Kite then took up a Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Poultry Research Centre (now the Roslin Institute) in Scotland, where she worked for several years on a Commission of the European Community animal welfare research contract, studying transportation stress in broilers and the establishment of objective measures of motivation in animals.

On returning to Australia in the late 1980s, Kite joined the NSW Farmers Association in the Poultry Group, and later accepted the position of Deputy Director of the Australian Poultry Industries Association (APIA) and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF), where she stayed until handing the reigns to current CEO Mary Wu.

Throughout much of this period, Dr Kite also managed the chicken meat industry’s national research and development program, run through the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (now AgriFutures) Chicken Meat Program).

Kite’s passion, knowledge and leadership in the poultry industry meant that she was held in high esteem by industry, the scientific community and government agencies. For decades, she was the most important contact point for state and Australian government agencies when it came to issues involving the chicken meat industry in Australia. Notable recent evidence of her influence was seen in the way she guided the chicken meat industry, and wider food industry through the COVID-19 pandemic, with industry workforce guidelines released just five days after the WHO declared the situation a ‘pandemic’. These guidelines were later used as a model by other industries and government regulatory agencies.

Kite was also instrumental in developing a comprehensive set of codes of practice, guidelines and standards for Transport, Welfare and Food Safety Standards, Environmental Guidelines and Biosecurity Bench Marking, to name a few.

Throughout Vivien’s nearly 35 years with the peak industry body, chicken meat consumption has doubled, increasing from 23kg in 1989, to 50.1kg today, making it Australia’s most popular meat.

The ACMF employed Dr. Mary Wu in November 2022 as CEO to replace Kite. May 31 marks the end of a six-month handover period. Wu came to the chicken meat industry from the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), where she was General Manager of Processing and Export.

“I am looking forward to taking over the reins from Viv so that she can have a well-deserved retirement, but I know I have big shoes to fill," said Wu. "I thank her for the generous handover period and join the rest of the industry in wishing her all the best."

Melanie Epp

Melanie Epp is a freelance agricultural journalist from Ontario, Canada.

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