30 Oct 2014

CEO frustrated at lack of change

6:49 am on 30 October 2014

The outgoing chief executive of New Zealand's biggest meat company says the lack of fundamental change in the industry has been frustrating.

Keith Cooper is stepping down at the end of the year after eight years heading the Silver Fern Farms meat co-operative.

Mr Cooper has been with the co-operative for 24 years, but says with its return to profitability, it is the right time to step down.

There have been high points as well as low ones during his time at the helm, he said.

"Creating the Silver Fern Farms brand, merging the cultures of Richmond and the old PPCS into a single, strong Silver Fern Farms has been an exciting journey and a rewardingly successful one, creating our consumer focus strategy, understanding the consumer, has been a high point also.

"I suppose on the flip side - probably the biggest downside or low point would be the frustration that the industry hasn't changed much at all, over the years, and I think that's where everyone's pointing to.

"You know the old adage: if you keep doing things the same old way you're going to get the same old outcomes. Yet we haven't been able to get consensus and agreement to change the overall model to change the outcome."

Mr Cooper said changes in the industry need to be farmer-driven and Silver Fern Farms agrees with many of the views of the farmer Meat Industry Excellence group campaigning to reform the red meat sector.

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