Dan Mathieson, Zespri’s CEO, is to step down from the helm of the kiwifruit supplier.

Mathieson has worked for the New Zealand-based business for more than two decades and was promoted to chief executive seven years ago.

In a statement, the grower-owned Zespri said today (23 January) Mathieson was leaving the business to become president of berry supplier’s Driscoll’s operations in the Americas.

Bruce Cameron, Zespri’s chairman, pointed to the sales growth the company achieved during Mathieson’s tenure.

“Under Dan’s exceptional leadership Zespri grew sales from almost NZ$2.3bn ($1.4bn) in 2016/17 to a peak just over NZ$4bn in 2021/22 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with that growth set to continue in the coming years,” Cameron said.

In the company’s 2022/23 fiscal year, it booked an “operating revenue” of NZ$4.22bn, which was 5% lower than a year earlier.

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By GlobalData

Revenue from fruit sales fell 3% to NZ$3.92bn, lapping what Zespri then called “the record result” of the previous 12 months.

Volumes stood at 183.5m trays, compared to 201.5m trays a year earlier. Net profit after tax, including licence revenue, was NZ$237.8m, against NZ$361.5m in the previous financial year.

Mathieson will stay with Zespri during the 2024 harvest and the start of the sales season until his successor is appointed.

In November, when Zespri released a forecast for the 2023/24 season, it forecast “record levels” for tray returns for its Green, Organic Green and Ruby varieties. The company also predicted higher returns for Zespri SunGold.

Mathieson said today: “We know demand is growing strongly and with what has so far been a good growing season, we’re focused on delivering a large, great-tasting and high-quality crop to our customers and consumers and delivering great value back to our growers and partners.”