New Zealand-based kiwi fruit grower Zespri has appointed its chief operating officer (COO), Jason Te Brake, as its new CEO.

He will commence in the new role on 1 July.

Te Brake will succeed outgoing chief executive Daniel Mathieson, who is leaving Zespri to become president of the Americas division of California-based berry group, Driscoll’s.

Mathieson had announced his plans to exit the kiwi fruit supplier in January of this year.

He has worked for the New Zealand-headquartered group for more than two decades and was promoted to chief executive seven years ago.

Te Brake said Mathieson had been an “outstanding leader for Zespri, helping turn us into a world class sales and marketing organisation which is able to deliver significant value for our growers and our communities.”

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The agri-food cooperative said it had picked Te Brake for the role after an “extensive international search”.

He first joined Zespri in 2020, taking on a number of roles including acting chief global supply officer, head of New Zealand supply chain and commercial manager.

Last year, he was was appointed chief operating officer, being responsible for managing Zespri’s end-to-end supply chain, from growers to global markets.

Prior to joining the kiwi fruit grower, he held roles at New Zealand-based enterprises such as the meat processors AFFCO and ANZCO and the dairy business Miraka.

Commenting on the news, Te Brake said his focus will be “on leading the Zespri team to capture the significant demand opportunities in the market, on strengthening our supply chain and operational performance to maximise value in market and on ensuring we return as much of that value back to growers as possible.”

He added: “The kiwifruit industry has an outstanding track record of success, off the back of quality people, a world-class product and strategy and a commitment to innovating and tackling challenges together.”

Nathan Flowerday, chairman of the board described the new company head as “an outstanding executive with the strong commercial and stakeholder management experience we were looking for.

“He has a clear strategic vision to help Zespri and the industry achieve its immense potential and the operational expertise to ensure we do so.

“He has done an outstanding job leading our global supply chain and the New Zealand supply business as our Chief Operating Officer.

“He has also delivered exceptional results based on detailed planning and execution as the industry responded to the recent quality challenges and then reset to deliver a record crop this year.”

Flowerday added: “There is significant and growing demand for Zespri Kiwifruit which will add real value to our industry and communities.

“Zespri has a strong strategy in place as we pursue that, with Jason able to provide the vision and continuity as well as the knowledge of our industry to deliver on that.”

Zespri is an agri-food cooperative based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, which produces the kiwi brands Zespri Green, RubyRed and SunGold Kiwifruit.

The business works with 2,800 growers in New Zealand and 1,500 growers internationally and is 100% owned by current and former kiwifruit growers, according to its website.

It has a global team of 850 based in Mount Maunganui and throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.

In 2023 and 2024, the company claimed to have supplied 164.2m trays of kiwifruit in more than 50 markets.

It recorded a “global operating revenue” of NZ$4.21bn ($2.56bn) in its full-year fiscal results for 2024, released last week.