South Africa’s Astral Foods has appointed Gary Arnold to become the company’s chief operating officer (COO).

Arnold’s appointment is effective October 1.

The COO position was newly created at Astral Foods. As COO, Arnold will focus on optimizing expansion opportunities and continuous improvement initiatives, while effectively allocating capital and human resources across all of Astral Foods’ divisions.

Arnold, who is currently the managing director of Astral’s Agriculture Division, will continue to report to Chris Schutte, the CEO of Astral Foods.

Arnold has been with the group in various executive positions for 25 years, and his qualifications include a BSc Agriculture (Hons), MSc Agriculture and Master of Business Administration degrees.

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New executive director appointed

With Arnold moving into the COO’s position, Frans van Heerden has been appointed as an executive director of Astral Foods, also effective October 1.

Van Heerden started his career within the group when he joined Astral’s Internal Audit Department 15 years ago. He was subsequently appointed to different financial management roles within the group, and in 2017, he was promoted to COO of the Central Region Poultry Commercial operations. On November 1, 2020, he was appointed as the managing director of the Group’s Poultry Commercial Division. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and holds a diploma in National Auditing.

Astral Foods, according to the WATT Poultry International Top Companies survey, shares the distinction as the largest broiler producer in Africa with RCL Foods, also of South Africa. Both companies slaughtered 260 million broilers during the past year. Astral Foods is also the world’s 105th largest animal feed company, having produced 1.355 million metric tons of feed during the past year.

Astral Foods’ subsidiaries include National Chicks, County Fair, Ross Poultry, Tiger Chicks, Tiger Animal Feeds and Provimi. Its poultry operations, in addition to South Africa, are located in Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.