Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff will step down in December following the company's annual meeting.
Cuff, who has held the top job since 2005, said the decision to step down was not easy, but it was the right time.
"I always said I'd give the role 10 years and I'm heading into my tenth year," Cuff said.
Cuff said he was leaving the company in a strong position with the demand for red meat strengthening and lamb prices expected to improve this season.
Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart said under Cuff's leadership the Alliance Group had been at the forefront of emerging market development including China, Brazil and India.
China was now the company's largest export market for red meat, and its emergence had played a significant part in improving returns for the co-operative's suppliers.
"Grant has steered the company through some challenging times and the Alliance Group has been fortunate enough to have his knowledge, experience and steady hand to rely on."
Cuff has held several executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive during his 24-year tenure with the Alliance Group.
Taggart said Cuff's sound leadership and commitment had helped the company retain its position as the country's largest exporter of sheep meat.
"His focus on quality livestock, quality products and efficient processing has meant that Alliance Group has been able to develop products that genuinely deliver on brand promise, enabling us to be more selective in our customer base and target the premium end of the market."
Cuff paid tribute to his staff.
- The Southland Times
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