Darigold CEO Joe Coote has stepped down roughly two years after taking the reins to lead the dairy co-op through a corporate transformation and expansion.
Board Chairman Allan Huttema has been named interim chief executive effective immediately, the company said Monday. Coote is returning to his native Australia.
“Serving as CEO of Darigold the last two years was a great privilege,” Coote said in a statement. "Having been away from my home country for many years now, my family and I are ready to return to Australia to begin new adventures back home."
Coote was named CEO in January 2022, approximately a year after joining the company as president of its international ingredients division. He helped guide the co-op through the early days of its 10-year transformation plan to expand production and become a global ingredients provider.
Huttema will now pick up where Coote left off. The Seattle-based dairy producer is building a $600 million ingredients facility and has invested in distribution capacity near ports to better serve international markets. It's also opening a new office in Boise, Idaho, to be closer to member farms and processing plants.
Huttema has served on Darigold's board of directors for nine years and was chair for the last three. He is an active dairyman in Idaho, which the company said gives him a "unique and well-rounded experience with Darigold and a deep understanding of its complex operations."
Darigold recently took additional steps to strengthen its leadership team, bringing on three new sales executives with previous roles at places like Hormel, Fonterra and Organic Valley.
"I take over as Interim CEO with the benefit of having an extremely capable leadership team in place,” Huttema said in a statement. "I have full confidence that the team and the structure we have in place will help ensure that we continue serving our customers in the way they have come to expect from us.”