The executive in charge of Fonterra's milk processing business has resigned in the wake of a food safety scare that has threatened to damage the reputation of the world's largest dairy exporter in its most important markets.
Fonterra, New Zealand's biggest company by turnover, gave no explanation for the sudden departure of Gary Romano, the head of its NZ Milk Products division, in a brief, three-paragraph statement.
"Gary has made a significant contribution during his time at Fonterra and we respect his decision," said Theo Spierings, chief executive, who will temporarily take charge of the division.
NZ Milk Products is Fonterra's most profitable business. It processes milk into cheese and a range of other products including infant formula and whey protein concentrate.
It is also at the centre of a contamination scare that resulted in potentially tainted products being pulled from the shelves in several countries including China, Australia, Vietnam and New Zealand.