The role was previously held by Sergio Rial, before he left the company in November. Cargill president and chief operating officer David MacLennan had added the duties of interim chief financial officer to his responsibilities until Smits begins work on April 15.
Smits had previously been the ceo of American consumer goods firm Sara Lee since 2011, having initially joined the company as chief financial officer in 2009.
Various financial positions
Before this he was chief financial officer at Dutch retail group Vendex KBB and telecommunications provider KPN. He has also held various financial management positions at Unilever.
Cargill chairman and chief executive officer Greg Page said: “Marcel Smits is a terrific addition to the Cargill leadership team. His global experience in financial management and the food industry will be a tremendous asset to the company.”