People Moves: Blue Moose Appoints President, KEEN Adds Partner

Meagan McGinnes

The summer slowdown isn’t stopping businesses from mixing up their leadership teams. From hiring executives to adding board members, here are some of the biggest moves the food industry has seen over the past month.

Blue Moose of Boulder Appoints President

Hummus, dip and spread maker Blue Moose of Boulder announced Monday that the Colorado company has appointed Victoria Hartman as president.

“Victoria is a proven leader that has excelled in successfully building small businesses,” Ed Shirley, non-executive chairman of Blue Moose of Boulder, said in a statement. “We’re confident that her unique experience, ambition and reputation will be a great addition to Blue Moose of Boulder.”

Hartman, who is a 25-year industry veteran and previously worked at leading national food broker Alliance Sales & Marketing, as well as Madhava Natural Sweeteners, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Horizon Organic Dairy and Celestial Seasonings. At Blue Moose, Hartman will be responsible for leading the Colorado company’s commercial efforts through what it is calling a “rapid expansion.”

“I have seen first-hand Blue Moose’s success in expanding its presence with leading retailers and attracting customers,” Hartman said in a statement.

Kroger Brings On Aldi Vet to Lead Ruler Foods Discount Division

Aldi veteran Liz Ferneding is joining the Kroger team later this month as president of Ruler Foods discount division, the grocery chain announced last week. Ruler Foods’ former president, Paul Bowen, retired in May.

“Liz’s extensive grocery retail experience in procurement, marketing, advertising, management and operations will be an asset to our Ruler associates, customers and community,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Ferneding’s Aldi tenure spanned 11 years, most recently serving as director of corporate buying. Kroger currently has 48 Ruler discount stores, and its expansion would directly take on retailers such as Aldi and Lidl.

Keen Growth Capital Adds Third Venture Partner

An early-stage venture fund led by serial entrepreneur Jerry Bello and industry vet Jonathan Smiga, is making its investment team into a trio, the firm announced Monday.

KEEN, which focuses on better-for-you food and wellness brands, has appointed David Comeau, the founder and principal of DC50 Advisors and former president of Mondelez International Asia Pacific, as its newest venture partner.

The announcement comes less than a month after KEEN expanded its portfolio by investing in two growing brands, O’Dang and The Jersey Tomato Co. KEEN’s portfolio also includes Brownie Brittle, Cookie Pop, Sensible Portions, Pure Spoon and Thrive ice cream.

SPINS Snags CVS Health For VP of Consumer Activation

Consumer Insights company SPINS announced last week that it will welcome Peter V.S. Bond as its new vice president of consumer action. In this role, Bond will be responsible for bringing “groundbreaking programs” to the company’s retailers and suppliers.

Bond comes to SPINS from CVS Health, where he used customer behavior insights to build better digital and traditional marketing media. Prior to CVS, Bond worked to increase customer loyalty with Coca-Cola and Kroger.

“SPINS’ proprietary assets and basket transactional data opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for SPINS retail partners and their vendors,” Bond said in a statement. “My team knows how to produce the highly targeted, measurable, personalized customer engagement that is vital to competing in today’s omnichannel health & wellness marketplace.”

Explore Cuisine Adds Managing Director

Bean, pea and lentil pasta company Explore Cuisine hired Gregor Forbes, a former advisor to the board, as managing director, the company announced last month.

“Bringing Greg on board is a key step in bolstering the execution of Explore Cuisine’s product innovation, as well as supporting the continued and rapid global brand growth,” Chairman and founder Joe Spronz said in a statement. “Greg will be instrumental in crossing borders and tapping new markets, in addition to the 20 countries we are already in.”

Forbes’s sales and marketing experience spans countries — United Kingdom, Ukraine, China and Switzerland — and companies — Pringles, Vicks, Tide and Gillette.

Other notable leadership changes and additions include:

  • John Foraker, president of Annie’s Inc., announced Thursday that he’s joining the board of the Non-GMO Project. “We at Annie’s Inc. have been supporters since the beginning of the butterfly and I look forward to helping maintain its integrity and also to maintaining the integrity and value of organic and the organic movement,” Foraker wrote in a post on LinkedIn. “Consumers deserve choices they can trust.”
  • Boulder Brands CEO Jim Leighton joined 1908 Brand’s board of directors earlier this week. Leighton will continue to serve on Boulder Brand’s board as an employee director.
  • Gaia Herbs is changing its sales and marketing teams. Among the additions, the brand brought on Elena Levitskaya-Lécué as EVP earlier this week. Previously, she worked at DanoneWave.
  • Snyder’s-Lance’s board appointed Brian Driscoll as its president and CEO, the snack giant announced last month. Driscoll had been serving as the company’s interim president and CEO since April.
  • The Consumer Goods Forum added two new co-chairs to its board last month. Ian Cook, chairman, president and CEO of Colgate-Palmolive, will lead the Manufacturer College of the Board, while Olaf Koch, chairman of the Management Board ar Metro Group, will chair the Retailer College.

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