Tracey McKay

International Women’s Day – Tracey McKay

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Potatoes New Zealand connects with various women in the industry as part of International Women’s Day to discover the amazing work they do in the sector.

Name: Tracey McKay
Company: Alps Seeds Ltd

What do you do in your current role?

Together with my husband Andy, we own Alps Seed Ltd, which is a seed potato business based in Canterbury. I manage our tissue culture laboratory and tunnel house facilities where we produce potato plantlets and minitubers respectively.

What do you particularly enjoy about it? 

The real highlight for me is the relationships we have with our customers and industry personnel. We work with some amazing people and I’m always happy to go the extra mile in my part of the potato seed pathway for them. I get immense satisfaction hearing that they have had a good season and hearing yield results, particularly when it’s with some challenging varieties.

How long have you been with your organisation?

We established Alps Seeds Ltd in 2005 and also built the first tunnel house in that year. The following year we built our laboratory to allow us to have control of the whole potato seed production pathway.

How do you find working in the potato industry/primary industries? 

The potato industry is brimming with awesome people who are dedicated and work extremely hard. There are so many opportunities in the potato industry and lots of people keen to support new people into the industry.

Have you encountered any specific challenges? 

There have been loads of challenges and I’m grateful when we started our potato business, we were so naive and enthusiastic. I think sometimes it helps not to have a plan B! As any potato grower will know potatoes are unforgiving and you can’t take your eye off them, or they will kick you in the butt! Certain varieties have been very difficult to grow and ensure they remain virus free.

Tracey McKay

What or who inspires you? 

My parents have been extremely inspirational as they have a relentless positive can do attitude and have always been the first people to come to help us when we have been under the pump, despite having no background in horticulture. They have spent many hours helping me plant and harvest in the tunnel house, on the back of our potato digger or delivering machinery around Canterbury. We have been so fortunate to have had their support over the years.

What would you tell another woman interested in working in the potato industry/primary industries?

The opportunities are huge across the primary industries for women. Horticulture is in a very exciting time, and it is full of innovative people doing amazing things. Get involved, connect with industry and surround yourself with positive people.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. Find out more at