Fonterra names Dutch dairyman Henk Bles to new role of head of international farming ventures

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest exporter of dairy products, named Dutch dairy industry veteran Henk Bles to a new role as interim managing director of international farming ventures.

Bles will start on April 14 for an initial term of six months while embarking on a global search for a permanent appointment, it said in a statement.

The position reports directly to chief executive Theo Spierings and follows the decision to split off the Auckland-based company's large scale farming operations into a stand-alone unit, it said.

Bles has his own dairy, livestock and genetics businesses and is a board member of the Dutch Cattle Association, according to the statement.

Fonterra is increasingly looking for sources of milk outside of New Zealand which would allow the company to participate in fresh milk supplies in key markets and provide a local source of milk for manufactured dairy products. The move also recognises the limited supply of land for dairying in New Zealand which means local production can't match global demand and has seen it open dairy farms in China and elsewhere.

In the 2011 season, the company sourced 1.8 billion litres of milk in Australia and 2.6 billion litres in Latin America, still small compared to the 15.4 billion litres of milk collected in New Zealand, according to figures on its website.

Units of Fonterra Shareholders' Fund, which are entitled to dividends from the company's ordinary shares, last traded at $6.18 and have gained 6.6 percent this year.

(BusinessDesk)

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