Newly formed New Zealand freight management business Coda has appointed former Olympic rower Scott Brownlee as its chief executive.

Brownlee, who was previously chief executive of logistics and transport company DTL, has been acting chief executive of Coda since its formation was announced in February.

Coda, a joint venture between Kotahi and Port of Tauranga, was formed with the aim of boosting efficiency in the national supply chain and preparing for the arrival of bigger container ships.

Kotahi is a freight management partnership between Fonterra and Dunedin-based meat company Silver Fern Farms.

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As it stands, the supply chain has problems - much of it due to New Zealand's long, skinny shape, Brownlee says.

The industry estimates that, at any given time, about 25 per cent of trucks on the road are running empty.

Brownlee said Coda, which is chaired by former NZ Dairy Board chairman Sir Dryden Spring, aimed to "move less air" in the network by eliminating waste and preparing the supply chain for the arrival of bigger ships at New Zealand ports.

Port of Tauranga will contribute the assets of wholly owned subsidiary Tapper Transport, which includes Priority Logistics, container packing and unpacking facility MetroPack and its 37.5 per cent stake in empty container repair and storage business MetroBox, while Kotahi is putting in the assets of logistics and transport group Dairy Transport Logistics.

The organisation provides a range of freight management solutions and expects to move more than five million tonnes of containerised cargo, out of New Zealand's 260 million tonnes of domestic freight, which will be fed, by road and rail, to key shipping ports.

Brownlee represented New Zealand in the coxless fours in three Olympic Games - 1992 at Barcelona, 1996 at Atlanta and 2000 at Sydney.