Dutch cooperative’s CEO will succeed Giorgio Comino as kiwifruit marketer’s director for Europe and North America

Steve Martina is to leave Dutch fresh produce giant The Greenery at the end of August and take up a new role as director for Europe and North America at Zespri International.

Martina, who has spent more than 19 years with The Greenery, including almost eight years as chief executive officer, said he wanted a new challenge that would offer opportunities for “organisational impact and personal growth”.

He will fill the Belgium-based position left vacant by Giorgio Comino, who it is understood departed kiwifruit marketer Zespri at the end of March.

“After giving it much thought and with deep respect for our growers and colleagues, I have decided to continue my career elsewhere,” Martina explained. “I am immensely grateful for the many opportunities I have been given to develop the company, its employees and myself.”

He added; “I am proud of where The Greenery is Today. It’s good that the organisation is moving forward under new leadership. I am confident that the management team, together with the growers and employees, will continue the course we have embarked on in order to achieve our ambitions together.”

‘Vital contribution’

Martina replaced former Greenery CEO Ton Wortel back in February 2016 at a critical period for the group, during which time it was in the process a major reorganisation that would help to restore profitability and dramatically reduce its operating costs.

Niels Zuurbier, chair of The Greenery’s cooperative supervisory board, hailed Martina’s impact on a business that face a far-from-certain future at the time of his appointment.

“Over the course of his career at The Greenery, during which Steven advanced through various sales management positions to the role of CEO and management board member of Cooperative The Greenery UA, Steven has achieved many milestones and made a significant contribution to the development of our organisation in the past two decades,” he commented.

“We are very grateful to Steven for his commitment to our organisation, our growers and our customers. We are happy for him and wish him lots of success in his further career.”

‘Breadth of experience’

In a separate statement, Zespri chief executive officer Dan Mathieson confirmed Martina’s appointment, effective 1 September.

“Steven will lead our European and North American team’s work to create sustainable, long-term value for kiwifruit growers, by offering local consumers the world’s leading portfolio of branded kiwifruit 12 months of the year,” he said.

“We’re delighted to have appointed someone with Steven’s breadth of experience and who so closely aligns with our purpose and values.

“In his 19 years at The Greenery, Steven has established a proven track record of commercial and strategic management, marketing and innovation across value chains.”

Martina has developed a close connection with Zespri, which sells its kiwifruit through The Greenery, among a number of other marketing partners in Europe.

He has also been a member of Zespri’s sustainability advisory board since it was established in 2022.

“With Steven’s appointment, I’d like to express my great thanks to Linda Mills for her contribution as Acting President for Europe-North America,” Mathieson wrote. “Steven will work closely with Linda when he commences his role on 1 September and as she transitions to her Head of Integrated Business Planning role.”

He concluded: “I look forward to welcoming Steven to the Zespri team as we continue our work to maximise the value we can return to growers and our communities in this season and beyond.”