Experienced international marketer, Jillian Laing, has been appointed founding CEO of the newly established World Macadamia Organisation (WMO). New-Zealand-based Laing brings more than three decades of marketing and business development experience in the international food industry to the WMO, which was established in 2020.

The WMO is tasked with stimulating significant additional global demand for macadamias, as the industry enters a period of increased supply.

The key objectives of the WMO are:

  • The collection of market intelligence to create a central database on the world’s supply and demand statistics.
  • To become the creator and the custodian of global quality standards.
  • Drive health research and promote the publication of positive outcomes.
  • Implement measures to promote and increase macadamia consumption in current markets.
  • Identify new markets and to seed consumer demand and awareness in these markets.

Laing was one of several promising candidates who applied for the role. Her experience in developing markets as well as her enthusiasm to drive growth with a product such as macadamias, which is riding the global trend of ‘super’ foods, set her apart.

A seasoned role-player in the food industry

Laing has worked in a broad range of roles across the global food industry, from fast-moving consumer goods (predominately snack food and biscuits), to science and technology (with a focus on food-processing equipment), and most recently, in the dairy industry at Fonterra, New Zealand. She has been based in Bangkok, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Singapore, and Shanghai, and has engaged with customers and consumers across all continents.

A major focus for Laing at Fonterra was marketing ingredients to global food manufacturers. This involved new product development, pricing, service offers, and branding. In addition, she worked across the food service and consumer business with a focus on Southeast Asia and China.

The CEO of Macadamias South Africa (Samac), Lizel Pretorius, welcomed Laing’s appointment. “Other industries such as avocados and almonds have had great success in stimulating demand through non-origin consumer campaigns. With Laing’s appointment, macadamias have an amazing opportunity to emulate other products’ success in driving demand in a period where global supply is forecast to grow exponentially. We at Samac are excited about this appointment, as it is critical that Samac achieves its key objectives,” says Pretorius.

Laing officially started on 1 February. “I look forward to working with the global industry to promote consumer demand and awareness in all markets,” she says. Her key priorities for the first six months are to develop a non-origin marketing campaign, which is to be implemented in the second half of 2021.

In addition, she will be required to align global quality standards to ensure that buyers, both established and new, are confident in the product they buy to ensure they do not create demand for it, only to be destroyed by low quality, rancid products. – Press release, Samac