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Welcome to On the Move. Every week, The Current is rounding up the comings and goings of leaders at brands and retailers across the ecommerce, retail and CPG landscape.
This week brings succession plans to usher in new CEOs at Cargill, Ahold Delhaize USA and Kodiak Cakes. Plus, key North American leaders are appointed at Kraft Heinz and Mars Petcare.
Here’s a closer look:
CEO succession at Cargill
Brian Sikes. (Photo via Cargill)
Brian Sikes was promoted to CEO at Cargill, effective Jan. 1, 2023. With this promotion, current CEO Dave MacLennan will move to the role of executive chairman after a nine-year stint in the top role.
Sikes is a 31-year veteran of the 157-year-old global food corporation, and most recently served as COO. He previously led the company’s global salt and protein businesses, as well as leadership roles in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
MacLennan initially joined Cargill in 1991. During his tenure, he oversaw the acquisition of companies including Croda (bioindustrials), EWOS (aquaculture), Diamond V (animal nutrition), and Sanderson and Wayne Farms (poultry). The company also developed alternative proteins, as well as technology for farming, supply chain and food delivery.
Ahold Delhaize USA will have a new CEO
JJ Fleeman. (Coutesy photo)
JJ Fleeman will become the CEO of grocer Ahold Delhaize USA in 2023. He will succeed current CEO Kevin Holt, who is set to retire after stepping down in April.
Fleeman is the president of Peapod Digital Labs, which is the company’s center of innovation in ecommerce, technology and shopper experience. Over a 30-year career, he also served as an executive in several of the company’s grocery brands, including Food Lion, which is its largest.
Along with Food Lion, Ahold Delhaize USA oversees regional grocers including Food Lion, Giant, Stop & Shop, FreshDirect and Hannaford.
Kodiak Cakes appoints new CEO, founders move to board
Valerie Oswalt. (Courtesy photo)
Breakfast and snack brand Kodiak Cakes announced the appointment of Valerie Oswalt as the company’s new CEO. With this hire, CEO Joel Clark and president Cameron Smith, who are both cofounders of the brand, will transition to the company’s board of directors.
Oswalt is joining Kodiak from the Campbell Soup Company, where she was president of the $3.9 billion snacks division (Goldfish, Milano, Pepperidge Farm, Snyder's of Hanover) and served as an executive VP since 2020. She previously served as CEO of trail mix and nut products brand Century Snacks, and led a turnaround effort there.
Kodiak Cakes makes protein-powered pancake and waffle mixes, frozen waffles and pancakes, oatmeal, baking mix and snacks. Over the last 18 months, the brand has received a majority investment from L Catterton, hired former Patagonia head of global marketing Cory Bayers and brought on actor Zac Efron as board member and chief brand officer. The brand has better than 30% top-line growth of the last year, and north of 60% CAGR over the last 12 years.
Mars Petcare names North American nutrition head
Alanna McDonald. (Courtesy photo)
Mars Petcare said Alanna McDonald is the new regional president for its Mars Pet Nutrition business in North America, which oversees brands such as Pedigree, Iams and Caesar.
McDonald previously served as president of beauty brands including Maybelline New York, Garnier and essie at L'Oreal, putting an emphasis on ecommerce. She also spent 17 years at Procter & Gamble.
"Alanna is a proven leader who brings strong global perspective on what consumers want and what retailers need,” said Ikdeep Singh, global president of Mars Pet Nutrition. “She understands the massive potential of a well-placed digital experience – positioning us to meet the evolving needs of pet parents for years to come.”
Kraft Heinz names North American CPO
Janelle Orozco. (Courtesy photo)
Kraft Heinz named Janelle Orozco chief procurement officer for North America.
She joins the food company from Diageo, where she rose to chief procurement officer after working at the beverage corporation since 2002.
“We are on a quest to create a renowned procurement function that is built to deliver consistent results today and become a competitive advantage for the business in the future,” said Mars Petcare North American Zone President Carlos Abrams-Rivera, in a statement. "Janelle joining our team is a marker of the transformation of this function."
Fetch Rewards names board member
Neela Montgomery. (Courtesy photo)
Neela Montgomery will join the board of Fetch, the rewards app and consumer engagement platform.
Montgomery brings 20 years of experience, and knowledge of scaling digital ventures in retail. She previously served as president and EVP at CVS Health, leading the pharmacy division during COVID booster distribution. She also oversaw digital transformation as CEO of Crate & Barrel, and spent 12 years with British grocer Tesco. Montgomery additionally serves on the boards of VC firm Greycroft Partners, and tech companies Logitech International and Squarespace.
Trending in Careers
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.