Peter McBride, who has thrown his hat in the ring for a directorship at Fonterra, is stepping down as chairman of kiwifruit marketer Zespri, effective from early next year.

McBride has chaired Zespri since 2013.

Zespri said deputy chairman Bruce Cameron will become chairman from February.

Cameron is a long-time kiwifruit grower and has been a director of Zespri since 2010.

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The succession provides for continued strong leadership and experience on the board, Zespri said in a statement.

McBride has been a director of Zespri since 2002 and has served as chairman during a period of change and expansion, and including the industry's bounce back from the devastating impact of the bacterial disease, Psa.

Zespri said McBride had overseen a premium brand-led strategy and the expansion of Zespri "SunGold" to meet burgeoning demand in the markets.

McBride's tenure as chairman from 2013 had seen growth in average per hectare returns across all kiwifruit varieties of 55 per cent, and growth in the share price from 50 cents in March 2013 to over $8.00 a share, Zespri said.

McBride said the industry had 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 said.

McBride's career has focussed on agribusiness development and management in the New Zealand kiwifruit and dairy industries.

He has extensive interests in the kiwifruit and dairy industries, as well as the avocado and forest products sectors.

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In profile put forward for the Fonterra directorship, McBride said it was critical for New Zealand farmers that the dairy industry has a successful co-op leading it.

He added the buisness faced complex issues such as environmental sustainability, the risk of diminishing supply, capital structure and efficacy and increased competition.

"Fonterra has some key challenges with the New Zealand government the New Zealand public, and indeed to win back the hearts and minds of its own shareholders and farmers," he said.

The dairy co-op reported a net loss of $196 million for the July year - its first annual loss since its inception in 2001. The previous year's net profit was $745m.

Fonterra's annual meeting is due on November 8.