The board of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed the election of John Doumani as chair of the voice of Australia’s A$102bn (US$103bn) food and grocery manufacturing sector.

Doumani, MD of consumer dairy company Fonterra Australia/New Zealand, takes up the position of chair following the retirement of former chairman Geoff Starr who served on AFGC’s board for nearly five years, with three as chair.

“I look forward to leading AFGC as the industry continues to navigate the volatile business environment, build a sustainable industry and manage currency fluctuations,” Doumani said.

“Australia’s food and grocery sector is the country’s largest manufacturing sector. Maintaining our competitiveness and our ongoing commitment to being a good, active corporate citizen will be pivotal to ensuring ongoing profitable growth.”

AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said with the serious challenges facing the food and grocery manufacturing industry including rising imports, flat exports, increasing costs and pressure on margins, it was vital to have a leader of Doumani’s calibre.

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“It’s great to have someone with so much knowledge and vitality who will help industry take up these important challenges and to work with government to develop a national food and grocery agenda,” Carnell said.

“For the past four years, John has been an active AFGC board member. With more than 30 years experience in international business and consumer brands with leading companies, including Campbell Soup Co., Johnson & Johnson, Meadow Lea and most recently Fonterra, he will be a great leader for AFGC.”

Departing chairman Geoff Starr said the AFGC had been an important part of his life over recent years and he thanked his fellow Board members and everyone involved the industry.

“It’s been a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience being involved with AFGC – I hope my successor John Doumani – a well-known leader in our industry – enjoys his time just as much,” Starr said.

Australian Food News is Australia’s leading resource for the food industry, delivering daily news from the grocery, retail and hospitality sectors to 40,000 professionals each month.