Bao Xiufei has left his role as the chief sales officer at Royal FrieslandCampina to become the general manager of milk powder manufacturer Beingmate, with Fonterra hoping this will lead to positive change at the underperforming firm.

The New Zealand dairy business owns a minority stake in the Chinese company, with chief executive Theo Spierings saying that the appointment signals an important step in the transformation.

“We know our farmers and unit holders expect a lift in in Beingmate’s performance, so influencing the right transformation steps through our 18 per cent shareholding has been one of our top priorities,” he said.

“The appointment of a new and independent GM is the first of three key steps we communicated earlier this year in the Beingmate transformation plan. Now this appointment is made, the next priorities will be for Bao to unlock Beingmate’s distribution network and take the right actions to meet Chinese customers’ preferences for e-commerce.”

China is a strategic dairy market for Fonterra, returning $3.4 billion in sales revenue last year.