Westland Milk names former Danone executive Toni Brendish as CEO

Westland Milk Products, the Hokitika-based dairy cooperative, has appointed Toni Brendish as its new chief executive.

Brendish will start work on Sept. 5, replacing Rod Quin who will leave on July 31 after seven years in the role.

The Australian has spent a large part of her career with dairy group Danone. She was previously managing director of Nutricia Australia and New Zealand and managing director of Danone units in Malaysia and Indonesia.

She is currently the vice president of DKSH (Thailand), a consumer goods distribution business in Bangkok, where she lives.

In a statement, Westland said that she would live in Christchurch alongside her husband Mark, who is a New Zealander.

Chairman Matt O'Regan welcomed her appointment, adding her focus would be both domestic and abroad.

"Toni is committed to spending a good proportion of her time on the West Coast to get to know our region, shareholders, staff and facilities well," O'Regan said. "But we also expect that she will be spending a fair amount of her time overseas directly leading Westland's international marketing outreach."

When his exit was announced in March this year, outgoing chief executive Rod Quin warned that New Zealand farmers would need to return to low-cost pasture-based farming in order to weather the changes to global supply and target added-value, high-end products, rather than bulk commodity items. He added that he expected the downturn in dairy prices to last for another two seasons.

Westland was founded in 1937 and is the nation's second-largest dairy cooperative, a distant second to Fonterra. Its annual report shows it has 430 farming families who supply it with milk and turnover of $639 million.