One of the brains behind the merger that created a Dutch dairy powerhouse has landed the top job at Fonterra.
Dutchman Theo Spierings will take over from Canadian Andrew Ferrier on September 26 as chief executive of dairy co-operative Fonterra - New Zealand's biggest company.
Spierings, 46, was acting chief executive of Royal Friesland Foods and in 2008 led the company into a merger with Campina, creating Royal FrieslandCampina - the world's fifth biggest milk processor with an intake of 10.3 million tonnes.
"A huge amount has been achieved in the past 10 years since Fonterra was established," Spierings said.
The capital structure change to start share trading among farmers was a good example, he said.
"But what makes Fonterra really unique is its combination of low-cost pasture-based farming and its status as the world's largest milk processor."
Spierings, who runs his own company focused on corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions, said he was honoured to be invited to lead Fonterra into its second decade.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said export revenue from dairy products was expected to hit a new high of $13 billion for the year ended June.
Fonterra collected about 89 per cent of national milk production in 2009-10.
"I am acutely aware of Fonterra's importance to the New Zealand economy and look forward to leading an organisation that has the potential to have such a positive impact on its home country," Spierings said.
Fonterra was performing strongly and the challenge was to add another layer of value across the business, he said.
"I am used to working for farmers and I know they demand results."
Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman said Spierings had worked his way up from management trainee to acting president of Friesland Foods.
"He has worked for what is now Royal FrieslandCampina in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, all critical and growing territories for Fonterra," Leferink said.
"Mr Spierings understands the psyche and drivers of farmers and the advantages of the co-operative ownership model."
Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Spierings brought 25 years of knowledge of the global dairy industry to the company.
Spierings had a wealth of experience in managing dairy businesses across Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, he said.
"Most importantly, Mr Spierings has an in-built respect for the co-operative structure and for farmers and their commitment to co-operative principles."
Fonterra Shareholders' Council chairman Simon Couper said the appointment of the right person was a vital step.
"Mr Spierings' vast experience at the helm of not only a dairy company but also a co-operative should ensure he comes to grips quickly with the unique model and values that have been so instrumental in driving us forward over the past decade."
New Fonterra chief executive.
Born: The Netherlands in 1964.
Family: Married with three children.
Education: MBA, Glasgow University.
2007: Acting chief executive of Royal Friesland Foods.
2008: Oversees merger with Campina.By Owen Hembry Email Owen