US dairy giant Dean Foods has appointed Kelly Duffin-Maxwell to the newly-created position of executive vice president of R&D at its Colorado centre.

Duffin-Maxwell previously spent 20 years with Kraft Foods, most recently as senior vice president for breakthrough innovation.

She had worked in various sectors of the company including in the cheese, convenient meals and grocery categories, as well as serving as director for basic flavour and ingredient research for North America.

"We are placing an increased emphasis on brand-building and innovation and have strengthened our product development and marketing capabilities," said Gregg Engles, Dean Foods chairman and CEO. "Kelly's knowledge in converging science and business to the advantage of customers and consumers make her an important addition to Dean Foods."

Duffin-Maxwell will report jointly to Engles and Joe Scalzo, president and CEO of the WhiteWave Foods and Morningstar divisions.