It was only just over a year ago that one of the most well-known brands in fruit announced the departure of its longstanding CEO Lain Jager. Today, a resignation has been announced for another key member of Zespri’s old guard.
The New Zealand-headquartered and grower-owned kiwifruit company announced chairman Peter McBride would resign from the role in February, and will retire as a director at the company’s next annual meeting in July 2019.
The Zespri board has confirmed McBride will be replaced by the current deputy chairman Bruce Cameron, a long-time kiwifruit grower himself and a director since 2010.
McBride has been a director of the single desk marketer since 2002 and has served as chairman since 2013, overseeing the group during a period that was arguably the toughest in its history with the battle against vine disease Psa.
The group has congratulated the executive for overseeing a premium brand-led strategy and the expansion of Zespri SunGold to meet burgeoning demand in the markets.
His tenure has also been marked by industry consultation that led to a strengthening of grower ownership and control of Zespri, a change to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations and changes to the company’s constitution.
Since 2013 the company claims average per hectare returns across all kiwifruit varieties have risen by 55% while the share price has skyrocketed from NZ$0.50 cents in March 2013 to now over $8.
Reflecting on his chairmanship, McBride says it has been a privilege serving an industry that has shown strength through its cooperative spirit.
“Our kiwifruit industry has stepped through a number of challenges but we have demonstrated time and time again the cohesiveness of our industry and our ability to act in its common interest,” he says.
“I have been in a fortunate position to see through significant changes and as a kiwifruit grower I am looking forward to Zespri’s continued success as it transforms to serve more and more customers around the world.”
Zespri director Jonathan Mason described McBride as an “outstanding” chairman for the company and a leader in the kiwifruit industry.
“Among his achievements as both Chairman and director was his leadership in supporting the industry’s recovery from the serious challenge of Psa – communicating and listening to growers and developing the response,” says Mason.
“He then saw through the execution of our product and market strategy, in response to Psa, with the expansion of SunGold and strong sustainable performance for Green contributing to record returns for the industry. He leaves behind a strong legacy.”
McBride will be formally acknowledged for his outstanding contribution to Zespri and the New Zealand Kiwifruit Industry at the company’s annual meeting next year.