People Moves: Danone Nabs Kite Hill Operations Exec, McClure’s Picks Up Latella

Carol Ortenberg

The leaves aren’t the only things changing with the start of fall. Job titles are also shifting as a variety of CPG leaders advance to new food and beverage companies. Here are some of the top moves that we’ll be watching.

Ahold Adds CPG Veteran

When Project NOSH attended the opening of Ahold’s urban store concept Bfresh, Saskia de Jongh, VP of Marketing, Format and Store Development at Ahold, hinted that there may be more smaller format stores opening soon. Now, with the hiring of Marc Walkin as director of marketing for Ahold’s Fresh Formats division, it looks like that plan may be coming to fruition.

Walkin previously spent time on the marketing side at several CPG brands, including PopCorners, Beech-Nut and Barbara’s/Weetabix North America.

Ahold, which owns retailers Stop & Shop, Giant, Hannaford, Food Lion and online grocery service Peapod, is currently using Bfresh to develop unique grocery store experiences, with “an emphasis on fresh food and the modern consumer.”

Walkin’s experience on the brand side is expected to be an asset to Ahold as the retailer finds new ways to work with natural food brands, a category that the powerful millennial consumer is seeking out more and more.

Danone Nabs Kite Hill Operations Exec

More large strategics are investing in up and coming CPG brands and multinational food and beverage companies– and Danone is no exception.

Danone Manifesto group invests in “partners who share our vision of a healthy and sustainable future of food and encourage us to think bigger and differently.” To help its portfolio companies, it has brought on Jean Prevot as director of operations. Prevot previously worked at almond-based cheese and dairy producer, Kite Hill for roughly six years. During his time at the food-tech company, which is backed by General Mill’s venture arm 301 Inc, Prevot served as director of operations, VP of manufacturing and R&D, and ultimately as COO. Before Kite Hill, Prevot was at goat cheese brand Laura Chenel and at Danone from 2001 to 2006.

McClure’s Pickles Picks Up Latella

After helping sell Garden Fresh Salsa company to CPG giant Campbell’s soup, former CEO John Latella is moving on, taking the role of president at specialty pickle brand McClure’s Pickles. During his roughly eight years at Garden Fresh, Latella helped grow the company’s yearly revenue to a reported $110 million.

McClure’s, which is distributed in over 4,000 retailers, was founded in 2006, and is a family owned and operated brand.

Once Upon a Farm Adds Annie’s Team Members

John Foraker will be surrounded by familiar faces in his new role as CEO of high pressure processed (HPP) baby food brand Once Upon a Farm.

Joining him will be Larry Wadman, former President and CFO at Aloha and longtime SVP Supply Chain at Annie’s, as OUAF’s new CFO and SVP of Supply Chain, and Jocy Upton, former VP of Sales at Epic Provisions, as VP of Sales. Also moving to the baby food company’s team is Robyn Defina, former senior marketing manager of Annie’s, who will now act as director of brand marketing, as well as Keely Fadrhonc, former senior marketing communications manager of Annie’s, who’s now stepping in as OUAF’s director of marketing communications.

Foraker told NOSH that with this team in place, he believes the next year will be a huge growth period for the brand. Along with Foraker, actress Jennifer Garner joined the company as co-founder and chief brand officer.

“It’s been about 20 years since I was in a true startup and as you get older, some of those memories get a little dimmer, but I know that they are there and that our business will face many of the same challenges that all startups face: fast growth, getting the right people, making the right decisions about product and customers, supply issues,” Foraker told NOSH. “But, I think I have enough experience, and I know the broad team we’ve built has a ton of experience.”

My/Mo Mochi Mixes it Up with New CEO

In order to help the company scale, mochi producer My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has promoted Craig Berger to CEO. Berger previously served as CFO for the brand for roughly a year and a half before taking on this new opportunity. He succeeds Ralph Denisco who took on the CEO role in February 2017.

Previously, Berger was CFO at fellow Japanese-centric brand Fuji Food Products and CEO and CFO of Activate Drinks. He also spent over 10 years at McCormick Foods.

In a statement, My/Mo noted that Berger’s “experience and passion for the consumer business” will be critical in leading My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream through the next phase, as the company continues to dramatically grow and revolutionize snacking. In his expanded role, Berger will drive transformation in all areas to continue the business growth, brand awareness and national expansion.

Other moves within the food industry include:

  • Grocery retailer The Fresh Market appointed Larry Appel as the company’s president and chief executive officer earlier this month. Appel previously served in a variety of senior leadership roles at retailer Winn-Dixie and, most recently, as, CEO of Skeeter Snacks, a producer of nut-free snacks.
  • Carve Nutrition, based out of Venice Beach, California, recently added Jerome Williams as Chief Strategy Officer. The brand told NOSH that Williams, the former executive director of special operations at Quest Nutrition, will help Carve launch its new low-sugar, high protein Carve Cookie.
  • Neera Jokitalo has joined specialty food brand Les Trois Petits Cochons as a marketing coordinator. Jokitalo previously served as a brand ambassador for distributor UNFI after the company acquired her former employer, Gourmet Guru.
  • General Mills announced that Kim Nelson, Senior VP of External Relations and president of the General Mills Foundation, will be retiring at the end of 2017. Nelson’s tenure with the company spans 29 years.
  • Julie’s Real, a natural food company that produces nut butters and grain-free granolas, hired Todd Barry as director of finance and operations. Previously, Barry worked as the operations accounting manager at WhiteWave Foods.

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