March 15, 2023

Former Calavo CEO returns to company he led for 20-plus years

The former CEO of Calavo Growers is returning to lead the avocado industry leader and ready-to-eat fresh food provider for three years.

Lee E. Cole, who served as Calavo’s president and CEO from 1999 until retiring in January 2020, returns with a goal of returning the company to a position of growth and shareholder value creation, according to a news release.

Cole, who also served as director of Calavo for 39 years and chair of its board for 28, succeeds Brian W. Kocher, who has stepped down.

“On behalf of Calavo and all of our employees, we thank Brian for all his efforts and wish him success in his future endeavors,” Steven Hollister, Calavo board chair, said in the release. “We would also like to welcome back Lee Cole as president and CEO. Lee was responsible for bringing Calavo into the public market and making it one of the largest avocado companies in the world. His knowledge of the avocado business is second to none, and we anticipate great things for the company and our employees as we move forward.”

Founded in 1924, Calavo sells fresh-cut fruit, vegetables and prepared foods and is a global leader in quality produce, including avocados, tomatoes and papayas. Headquartered in Santa Paula, California, the company serves retail grocery, food service, club stores, mass merchandisers, food distributors and wholesalers worldwide and has processing plants and packing facilities throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

“I am honored to be asked to lead Calavo once again and look forward to generating value for our shareholders,” Cole said.


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