People Moves: Chef’d Signs Jemie Sae Koo as VP of Marketing

Meagan McGinnes

CPG leaders are preparing for the new year by stacking their teams with new talent so they can hit the ground running come Q1.

From a major CPG giant looking to promote a more inclusive workforce to a drinkable refrigerated soup brand looking to broaden its platform, companies large and small grew their staff in recent months.

Here is the latest in hiring news within the natural food world.

Chef’d Signs Jemie Sae Koo as VP of Marketing

Last week, ingredient meal-kit delivery service Chef’d announced that it’s bringing on Jemie Sae Koo to develop and implement on-brand new marketing strategies as VP of Marketing.

“We’re thrilled to have Jemie come on board to help us make an impact on what is slated to become a multi-billion dollar industry within the next year,” Kyle Ransford, CEO of Chef’d, said in a statement. “Jemie brings an entrepreneurial, business-first approach to marketing programs. At the heart of our business, we are driven to fully understand the needs of our customers and surpass their expectations.”

Koo brings with her over 15 years of experience in the digital marketing world.

She previously led initiatives and viral campaigns for Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Disney, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Salesforce, Taco Bell and YouTube.

This team growth follows the company’s August investment round, in which the Chef’d raised $35.2 million from companies including Smithfield Foods, Campbell Soup and Fresh Direct.

Jen Berliner Named President of ZÜPA NOMA

Earlier this month, investment and incubation Sonoma Brands chilled soup and gazpacho maker ZÜPA NOMA announced that Jen Berliner was promoted from VP of Marketing to president of chilled soup and gazpacho maker ZÜPA NOMA. In this role, Berliner will continue to expand and grow the company’s team and further drive cross-channel category innovation.

“I joined the ZÜPA NOMA team last year because I truly believe that the brand is on a path to change consumer behavior for the better,” Jen Berliner, President of ZÜPA NOMA, said in a statement. “For me, it’s about more than just selling a product, it’s about promoting a convenient, accessible, better-for-you lifestyle.”

Prior to joining ZÜPA NOMA, Berliner held numerous brand manager titles at PepsiCo.

“When looking to fill the role of President,” Jon Sebastiani, founder and CEO of Sonoma Brands, said in a statement. “There was no question that with Jen at the helm, ZÜPA NOMA will continue to lead the pack and drive further growth and innovation in this emerging category.”

Whole Foods Market Names 22-Year Company Vet as Executive VP of Operations

Whole Foods Market announced last month that Christina Minardi has been promoted from Northeast regional president to executive VP of operations. Minardi has been with the natural grocer since 1995.

In her new role, Whole Foods said that Minardi will lead four regions while also working with the executive team to “reimagine the customer experience” and drive e-commerce initiatives. These focus areas are a crucial part of Whole Food’s overall integration with e-commerce leader Amazon, which acquired the natural grocer earlier this year.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Christina to the leadership team and I look forward to working with her to build an exciting future,” Whole Foods CEO and co-founder John Mackey said in a statement. “I know she will be an integral part of building our relationship with Amazon and helping drive our shopper experience.”

Amy’s Appoints Xavier Unkovic to Oversee Global Operations

Amy’s Kitchen is growing its executive team with the addition of Xavier Unkovic as Global President.

As a former executive of Mars Inc., Unkovic brings with him a deep understanding of how to grow a value-driven business — something the organic food company found exceptionally appealing, according to cofounders Andy and Rachel Berliner.

“As a company, Amy’s believes in taking the time to do things the right way, and investing in a long-term vision. We put these values in place at the beginning, and I am looking forward to working with Xavier to build upon this foundation for the next generation,” Andy Berliner, Amy’s Kitchen co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “His leadership will help drive our innovation and support our customers’ goals to satisfy the growing market for high quality organic food.”

Unkovic will report directly to the Berliners. The duo started the company more than 30 years ago. Its portfolio includes over 250 products that span everything from frozen entrees, bowls, pizzas and burritos to canned organic soups and beans.

Campbell’s Address Diversity and Inclusion with Addition of Monica Diaz

The Campbell Soup Company is looking to create a more “diverse and inclusive workforce” with the addition of Monica Diaz. The CPG leader announced this month that Diaz would serve as the newly created Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

In this new role, Diaz is responsible for leading Campbell’s new enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion strategy across new and existing initiatives. Before joining Campbell’s, Diaz worked at ESPN — a part of The Walt Disney Company — as VP of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness — as well as at Microsoft Corp. and Merck.

“Diversity and inclusion are critical to our business success and are foundational elements of Campbell’s culture,” Morrissey said in a statement. “Monica’s proven track record in human resources, diversity and inclusion, wellness and talent management made her stand out among the many candidates we considered. Her nearly three decades of experience across many industries and geographies will complement the work we have underway and prove invaluable as we continue our efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Other notable industry hires include:

  • Last week, Happy Family founder and CEO Shazi Visram announced she’ll be transitioning from her role as CEO. Current SVP of Business Development, Anne Laraway, will take on the CEO role January 1. Visram, who founded the company in 2003, will remain as chair of the company’s board of directors.
  • Earlier this month, specialty grocer The Fresh Market named Mary Kellmanson its new CMO. The longtime Wegman’s vet will now oversee the company’s marketing and brand strategy, as well as public relations and communications.
  • Premium organic spices and seasonings provider Red Monkey Foods brought on industry vet Scott Bolonda as CEO last month. Bolonda’s 25-year executive experience includes numerous leadership roles at Zatarain’s and its parent company, McCormick Foods.
  • Brooklyn-based chocolate maker Madécasse has added Rod Bambach as its new VP of Sales, the company announced in a release earlier this month. Prior to this, Bambach held positions at Harvest Food Group, Torie & Howard and Racconto Imported Italian Foods.
  • Plant-based “burger” company Impossible Foods brought on two new faces this fall. Technology marketing veteran Tara Kriese will lead the startup’s marketing division and serve on the company’s leadership team, and human resources leader Marcella Butler was added as the company’s first Chief People Officer.

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