Tuesday, 30 January 2024 12:55

From kiwifruit to berries

Written by  Peter Burke
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson is leaving the co-op. Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson is leaving the co-op.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson is to leave the farmer-owned co-operative to take up a new position as president of Driscoll's - a huge California-based company that produces a range of berries.

In 2017, it controlled roughly one third of the $6 billion berry market in the US.

Driscoll's is a fourth-generation family business set up in the late 1980s by the Reiter and Driscoll families. The company also has a subsidiary called the Fresh Berry Company based in Hawke's Bay which was set up in 2016.

Mathieson has been at Zespri for 21 years, almost seven of those as CEO, and will remain at Zespri to oversee the 2024 harvest and start of the sales season until a new CEO is appointed.

Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron says Mathieson leaves as a world-class CEO who has helped turn Zespri into a leading sales and marketing company and with the industry well positioned to continue to succeed.

“Under Dan’s exceptional leadership, Zespri grew sales from almost $2.3 billion in 2016/17 to a peak just over $4 billion in 2021/22 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with that growth set to continue in the coming years. Through that time he demonstrated his ability to bring talented people together, to set and execute strategy and ultimately to deliver great outcomes for the industry,” he says.

Cameron says Mathieson leaves the company in a strong position to build on the industry’s success, with strong and stable management and a clear strategy the team is committed to executing well.

“We know Dan will have great success in his new role,” he says.

Mathieson says it was a difficult decision to leave, but he does so confident the industry is well positioned, while also excited by the personal challenge ahead.

“I’m so passionate about this industry. It’s filled with incredible, deeply committed people providing a world-class product and its future is so bright. We’ve had an industry-wide focus on addressing the quality challenges imposed by Covid restrictions, and on delivering the premium quality product we’re known for – we’ve seen the results of that this season,” he says.

Mathieson says demand for kiwifruit is growing strongly with what has so far been a good growing season. He says Zespri is focused on delivering a large, greattasting and high-quality crop to customers and consumers, and delivering great value back to growers and partners.

“I’m most proud of the people at Zespri and their commitment to delivering for our growers and partners. There will be new challenges ahead, but with an outstanding team of people, a clear strategy, and strong investment in innovation, I know Zespri will continue to be an increasingly strong force in the healthy food space,” he says.

The Zespri board will carry out an executive search for Mathieson’s replacement.

More like this

Crackdown on Chinese use of Zespri IP

Authorities in China have clamped down on companies in that country which have been packaging and selling their own local fruit under the Zespri brand.

Kiwifruit set to benefit from NZ-EU FTA

The fast-tracked implementation of New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union (EU) could provide a significant boost for the kiwifruit industry.

Featured

Celebrating success

The Director General of MPI, Ray Smith says it's important for his department to celebrate the success of a whole range of groups and people around the country.

Biosecurity award for M. bovis work

A small company which mobilised veterinarians around the country to deal with Mycoplasma bovis was one of the winners in this year's Biosecurity Awards, held at Parliament.

Cyclone's devastating legacy

One of the country's top Māori sheep and beef farms is facing a five-year battle to get back to where it was before Cyclone Gabrielle struck just over 14 months ago.

National

Machinery & Products

PM opens new Power Farming facility

Morrinsville based Power Farming Group has launched a flagship New Zealand facility in partnership with global construction manufacturer JCB Construction.

AGTEK and ARGO part ways

After 12 years of representing the Landini and McCormick brands in New Zealand, Bay of Plenty-based AGTEK and the brands’…

100 years of Farmall Tractors

Returning after an enforced break, the Wheat and Wheels Rally will take place on the Lauriston -Barhill Road, North-East of…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Bubble burst!

OPINION: Your canine crusader is not surprised by the recent news that New Zealand plant-based ‘fake meat’ business is in…

No Sat paper!

OPINION: This old mutt understands that NZ Post will soon no longer be delivering to rural addresses on Saturdays.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter