Clarke will succeed Premier chief Robert Schofield on 1 September.
He became head of Kraft’s European business in 2009, where he played a leading role at the heart of the controversial takeover of Cadbury, after which Kraft performed a U-turn on a pledge to keep a UK factory open, which sparked fierce criticism. Before Kraft he was president of Coca-Cola for northwest Europe. Previously he worked for Reebok in Asia.
Premier, the maker of Hovis and Mr Kipling’s cakes, has struggled with debt problems and last month warned of a fall in first half profit.
It sold its Quorn division as part of a strategy to reduce debt.
Panmure analysts said Clarke had “the brand credentials” that the company needed.