Cairnie was formerly executive vice president, strategy and planning at Anglo-Dutch oil and gas firm Royal Dutch Shell.
Before this, she held a number of senior international roles within Shell, including vice president of its global commercial fuels business, and served on the boards of Shell Pakistan and joint venture companies in Germany and Thailand.
She is currently a non-executive director of ground engineering company the Keller Group.
ABF said it was very much looking forward to the valuable contribution that Cairnie will make to the company.
Meanwhile, the international food and clothing group also posted its financial results today (April 23).
The firm delivered 10% growth in earnings per share at 45.8p before amortisation of non-operating intangibles and profits less losses on the disposal of non-current assets.
Group revenue was down 2% to £6.2bn and adjusted operating profit was up 1% at £497M.