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Lion announces inaugural Grower of the Year

Leeton citrus grower Jim Hillyer has been named the inaugural 2017 Lion Grower of the Year for his strong performance throughout the Valencia 2016/17 season.

7 December 2017

In a particularly challenging year, Jim ranked highest in yield, sugar acid ratio and fulfilment of contract for the Valencia season 2016/17.

The Lion Grower of the Year Award has been established in memory of the late John Davidson, a long-term team member at Lion Dairy & Drinks who played an integral role in furthering the Leeton juice industry. John sadly passed away this year.

Lion Dairy & Drinks Agricultural Procurement Director Murray Jeffrey said: “We’re delighted to present Jim with this award acknowledging his stellar performance, and to establish the Lion Grower of the Year awards as an annual event recognising the best-performing growers in our business.”

Murray said it may affectionately be nicknamed the Berri award by many growers, a reference to the brand many had supplied over the years.

“The award’s inspiration, John Davidson, was hugely important not only to Lion, but to the Leeton community as a whole and the entire Australian juice industry. We’re proud to encourage other passionate growers to follow in his footsteps through this award.”

Jim said he was honoured to receive the award, and credited his wife Leonie and their shared passion for Lion’s brand in particular Berri and the industry with their successful year. 

“It’s fantastic to see our efforts rewarded in this way,” he said. “It has been a tough year for our industry, but we’re extremely passionate about what we do and we’ve worked hard to ensure we’re producing a quality product that we can be proud of.  To be recognised with this award is a fantastic reward for our hard work and a great honour given the standing John had in the industry.”

John Davidson’s career spanned 43 years and saw him earn national recognition, including the Les Baker industry award in 2002 in acknowledgement of his pioneering work with mid-season varieties and his commitment to growing the Australian citrus industry.

John’s passion and innovation made him a widely respected leader in both the Leeton community, and the wider Australian fruit-growing industry. The Lion Grower of the Year award has been established to pay tribute to his work, and inspire other growers to continue his legacy.

The award was presented by Murray Jeffrey together with John’s wife Carol and son Justin in Leeton. 

Caption: From left: Richard Atkins, Lion’s Agricultural Procurement Leader, award recipient Jim Hillyer, Carol Davidson, Wayne Bourke, Lion’s Fruit Procurement Officer and Justin Davidson


Media Contacts:

Robyn Riley

External Relations Manager,

Lion Dairy & Drinks

Mobile: 0419 255 118

Email: robyn.riley@lionco.com


Elise Gare

External Relations Director,

Lion Dairy & Drinks

Mobile: 0437 306 437

Email: elise.gare@lionco.com