Ferguson, currently senior vice president, corporate development at Unilever, replaces Larry Pillard who left T&L to become executive chairman of Tetra Laval.
Acting chief executive Simon Gifford will remain in that role until Ferguson arrives. Gifford will then continue as group finance director.
T&L also named Stanley Musesengwa, currently chief executive officer of the group's Europe division, as chief operating officer.
Tate & Lyle added it would issue a trading statement on March 27.