6 Companies Look to New Leadership For Strategic Initiatives

Meagan McGinnes

Some of the food industry’s top brands have begun to rollout lofty plans for innovation and growth in 2017. But to navigate the sometimes rough logistical waters, they’re looking to new captains to take the helm.

Tyson, Pinnacle, Conagra, Kettle Cuisine, General Mills and Impossible Foods have all seen executive level leadership changes in the past month. Here’s a list of who is in, the experience they bring, and how they are expected to help these companies stay the course of their newly outlined missions.


To lead its recently announced sustainability initiative, Tyson has named former McKinsey & Company associate partner Justin Whitmore as the company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. Whitmore began in his position this month and will report directly to President and CEO Tom Hayes with strategies for how Tyson can make its products healthier for consumers, employees, animals and the environment.

“We created this new role as part of our commitment to invest in our future through sustainability initiatives while funding them in the present through a best-in-class approach to continuous improvement,” Hayes said in a statement. “[Whitmore] brings considerable operations experience to Tyson as well as an approach that breaks down barriers and unlocks the potential of teams. We believe he will not only drive change at Tyson, but across our industry.”


Pinnacle is restructuring its executive team so its current employees can welcome new responsibilities.

President of North American Retail Mark Schiller has been named Executive VP and Chief of Commercial Officer, while Michael Barkley will assume the role of Executive Vice President and President, Boulder. Following a transition period, Michael Allen, the current Executive Vice President and President, Boulder, will exit the company.

Schiller will lead company-wide efforts spanning marketing strategy, innovation, product development, package design, commercialization, productivity, consumer insights and shopper marketing.

Barkley, who was previously CMO during Pinnacle’s 2009 acquisition of Birds Eye, will build on the growth in the Boulder Brands division that was acquired in 2015.


Conagra Brands has named Barry Calpino as Vice President of Innovation. Calpino will be responsible for shepherding ideas through the company’s innovation pipeline by directing and coordinating the company’s consumer insights, marketing, research and development, packaging and design teams. Calpino will report to Chief Growth Officer Darren Serrao.

“He’s made a name for himself delivering on big bets and breakthrough ideas and as Conagra Brands continues to build its innovation pipeline and cultivate more of an entrepreneurial culture, his expertise and leadership will be a tremendous asset to the team,” Serrao said in a statement.

Prior to joining the Conagra team, Calpino was the Vice President of Innovation at Mondelez International. His addition is the most recent action highlighting the Conagra’s commitment to diversifying its portfolio of leading brands since divesting from its frozen potato business in 2015.

Kettle Cuisine

Kettle Cuisine is adding Mike Illum as Executive Vice President of Sales and Jeremey Kacuba as Chief Operating Officer. Illum has held a variety of sales leadership roles including nine years at Campbell’s Soup Company, and most recently, at Keurig Green Mountain. Kacuba’s resume includes positions at General Mills, Snyders-Lance, SunOpta, Leprino Foods and Chobani.

Kacuba and Illum’s sales and operational expertise are expected to help the company drive its coast-to-coast growth state following the 2016 acquisitions of Del Monaco Foods and Chef Creations.

General Mills

Jeffrey Harmening, a 23-year General Mills veteran, will take over as the company’s Chief Executive Officer starting June 1. Harmening is replacing Ken Powell, who has served as both General Mills Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2007. Powell will continue at the company as Chairman until his retirement, expected within the next year.

During his time at General Mills, Harmening helped to expand the company’s natural and organic segments with acquired brands like Annie’s and EPIC Provisions. He also headed the company’s U.S. cereal division.

Impossible Foods

Industry veteran Chris Gregg is joining impossible Foods as the company’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing. In his new role, Gregg is expected to help the plant-based company, which creates plant-based protein products , build its food production facility in Oakland, California, and scale its production.

“I was attracted to Impossible Foods not only by the intellectual challenge but by the enormous positive impact the company can have by rapidly scaling up production of its plant-based foods,” Gregg said in a statement. “The more we can optimize the manufacturing process, the faster we make the Impossible Burger available worldwide to offset the environmental cost of animal farming, while creating a more resilient and sustainable food system.”

Gregg has previous experience at Del Monte and a division of Safeway. He most recently as the COO for a variety of private equity firm VMG’s portfolio companies.

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