The 49-year-old will succeed Hugh Friel, 63, and will return to group headquarters in Tralee, Co Kerry, after 23 years in the US. Last year Mr McCarthy earned €809,000 compared with €956,000 for Mr Friel.
The new chief executive, whose background is in accountancy, has spent his career with the group he joined in 1976, through the graduate recruitment programme.
From Church Hill about seven miles from Tralee he grew up in a family “rich in football”, he said. His brother Pat played midfield on Kerry’s 1975 All Ireland winning football side.
In 1984 he moved to the US as financial controller of its fledgling business there.
As US operations expanded rapidly after the acquisition of Beatreme, the food ingredients group in 1988 for $130m, his executive roles broadened and he was appointed president of Kerry North America.
As Kerry diversified further he assumed responsibility for Kerry’s entire business in the Americas and was appointed an executive director of the group in 1999.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner Mr McCarthy outlined how he saw the group’s future under his stewardship.
“Kerry in the future will be built on the values that have existed in the organisation for 30 years,” he said.
“It has all of the same potential as it had in the past and will continue to grow globally”.
“Acquisitions will have to play a significant part ” in the drive for growth, he said.
“I believe Kerry is a strategic investor in the food industry,” he said.
Speaking to the media after the group announced its first half results for this year Mr McCarthy added that his long career has equipped him with the “right experience for the responsibilities I am about to take on come 1/1/08”, he said.
Those responsibilities will include an ever increasing focus on health as people come to expect the food they eat will be nutritious and contribute to their health and general wellbeing.
“We live in a changing world when it comes to the food environment and I feel Kerry is very well poised in that regard”, he said.