New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has appointed Danone executive Pascal De Petrini as managing director of its businesses in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Fonterra said De Petrini has around 25 years of experience across the markets and in senior leadership roles at Danone.

“Pascal is a strong, strategic people leader with a proven track record in delivering significant growth as well as turnarounds in FMCG businesses,” said CEO Theo Spierings. “I am delighted that we have someone of Pascal’s strengths and experience joining Fonterra.”

Fonterra is in a “dispute resolution process” with Danone over the botulism contamination saga.

Danone baby food on sale in China and New Zealand was pulled from shelves in August after Fonterra, a supplier of ingredients to the Dumex and Karicare brand owner, warned some of its whey protein contained an ingredient that could cause botulism.

The scare ended up being a false alarm but, as well as Fonterra suffering recalls across Asia, customers including Danone and Abbott Laboratories pulled products.

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De Petrini takes over from acting MD Johan Priem next month. Mark Wilson had held the role previously but indicated his intention to leave Fonterra in April.

Once De Petrini has taken up the role, Priem will take over the development of Fonterra’s food safety and quality plans, as well as support the globalisation of its CSR and sustainability programmes.