FGC elects first female Chair

12 April 2016

The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council has its first female Chair with the election today of Veronique Cremades-Mathis.

Mrs Cremades-Mathis is Country Manager of Nestlé NZ. She replaces Pierre van Heerden, of Sanitarium, who steps down after completing his three-year term.

Mrs Cremades-Mathis has more than 25 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry, being responsible for corporate and product development functions in Europe, key Nestlé accounts and Business leadership in Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Before taking up her role as Country Manager of Nestlé in 2011, she was Country Business Manager Nestlé Professional Indochina region, overseeing Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

She has been a Vice-Chair of FGC since 2013 and Chair of the Health & Technical Working Group. 

Mrs Cremades-Mathis said she was honoured to be chosen to Chair New Zealand’s peak body for consumer goods.

“FGC’s members represent more than $34 billion in domestic retail sales, more than $31 billion in exports, and directly or indirectly employ about 400,000 people, and so it plays an absolutely vital part in the economy. My aim is to ensure our focus remains on ensuring that our industry produces the best and safest food and grocery products available anywhere.

“FGC also promotes the role the industry plays in the health and nutrition of New Zealanders in making better diet and lifestyle choices, and we will continue to advocate on those issues using an evidence-based approach.”

FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich said she looked forward to working with Mrs Cremades-Mathis.

“Veronique has been a big part of FGC for the past three years and I really look forward to working with her on a new level.”

She paid tribute to Mr van Heerden for his untiring work for the industry, telling the annual general meeting that “it’s impossible to calculate the number of hours you have given FGC working on issues with me, the Board, and members personally or on their behalf. 

“You have led us through some challenging times, but not once did you waver from the basic question as Chair: what is in the best interests of the FGC membership?”

Mrs Rich pointed to his “courage under fire” both during the Christchurch earthquakes, when he organised and personally distributed donated goods collated by the FGC office from the membership, and time and time again during his chairmanship.   

“Pierre’s service on the Health Star Rating group, the public/private partnership on food security, and other work on members’ behalf, and lending his personal help for many of the smaller members have been of benefit to the whole industry.”

Three new Board members were elected by the AGM: Leon Clement, Managing Director of Fonterra Brands NZ, Sharna Heinjus, General Manager of Kimberly-Clark NZ, and Shane Webby, Director of Twin Agencies.

The full Board is: Veronique Cremades-Mathis, Chair; Scott MacKay (Design Print Partners), Vice-Chair; Gerry Lynch, (Mars NZ) Vice-Chair; Pierre van Heerden, Immediate Past Chair; Leon Clement; Mark Hamilton (Bell Tea & Coffee Co); Sharna Heinjus; Shane Webby;  John Kippenberger (Manuka Health); Tim Deane (Goodman Fielder).