December 17, 2018 / 1:34 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Louis Dreyfus appoints food innovation chief

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PARIS, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Company has hired a former Blackstone executive to take on a newly created role as head of food innovation, part of the commodity trader’s efforts to expand its business further down the food chain.

Kristen Weldon is to join the company from Jan. 1 as head of food innovation and downstream strategy, LDC said in a statement on Monday.

Like other global commodity traders, LDC wants to expand into food processing and ingredients to reduce its dependence on sourcing and transporting of staple crops that have become less profitable in the past few years.

LDC reported a sharp fall in first-half profits, but Chief Executive Ian McIntosh has pointed to improved profits during the second half and said restructuring has left the firm well placed to meet rising food demand in Asia.

McIntosh said on Monday he was confident Weldon’s appointment would contribute to LDC’s plans to innovate in food and move further into food processing.

Weldon spent 13 years at Blackstone, most recently as senior managing director (partner) and co-head of the London office for hedge fund solutions, LDC said.

She will join an executive group of more than 20 managers at LDC, which sits below a smaller senior leadership team.

McIntosh, formerly head of strategy, was promoted to the CEO role in September after the departure of Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz Editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Jane Merriman

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