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Jason Harty Heads to Theo, Spudsy and Sarah’s Snacks See Staff Switches

Meagan McGinnes

There’s a new wave of leadership in the food industry this summer. Here are the latest team shake ups that you should know.

Jason Harty Focuses on Digital at Theo Chocolate

After leading marketing efforts at companies including Nourish, Justin’s and Pretzel Crisps, CPG vet Jason Harty has a new gig at Theo Chocolate. As of this month, Harty is the chocolate company’s new CMO and general manager of direct-to-consumer business.

Harty was the CMO at Nourish Snacks, originally an entirely direct-to-consumer brand, where he led the efforts in translating consumer, market, cultural insights into a new brand strategy and look before departing in March.

Since 2006, Theo Chocolate has been producing organic, fair trade and non-GMO chocolates sold in retailers nationally and in its Seattle factory location that welcomes more than 50,000 visitors a year. In addition to focusing on the brand and marketing — which Harty said is his number one priority — he will also work to grow Theo’s direct-to-consumer business, which accounts for about 10 percent of sales.

“It feels like e-commerce started this ‘where does it belong’ conversation between sales and marketing… it’s this specialized channel of business and it’s not like you can turn it on like you can brick and mortar retail,” Harty said. “There’s a lot of low hanging fruit when it comes to a great opportunity for [Theo] to grow.”

Harty has joined Theo at a time when the chocolate company has seen other shifts in it’s c-suite. Etienne Patout assumed the helm of the company as CEO in April, taking on the role from co-founder Joe Whinney. Mitchell Hymowitz also joined the company as CFO in April. Despite the leadership changes, Harty told NOSH that some aspects of the company will always stay true to its origins.

“I can tell you what’s not going to change. We’re going to remain a company that’s rooted in cocoa and it’s going to be driven by a mission,” he said. “I’m just hoping to bring the marketing knowledge and the brand building experience that I have to this mission and help continue to grow the business.”

Ben & Jerry’s Gains New CEO

Unilever veteran Matthew McCarthy was named CEO of Vermont-based ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, the company announced earlier this month. McCarthy assumed his new position on June 1.

Ben & Jerry’s, which was acquired by Unilever in 2000, is known for its mission-driven initiatives and focus on sustainability. But within the walls of Unilever, so is McCarthy. During his 21 years at the CPG conglomerate, he’s increased the social impact of a number of the company’s leading brands, including Hellmann’s and Knorr. Most recently, McCarthy and his team developed Growing Roots, Unilever’s first organic snacking brand with a mission to support urban farming. In terms of bettering company culture and embracing diversity, McCarthy also founded the Men’s Working Group for Gender Equality at Unilever.

“We are delighted to welcome Matthew, who brings a wealth of commercial experience, along with rock-solid values and a courageous vision for the role businesses can and should play in the world,” Anuradha Mittal, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors chairperson, said in a statement.

In his new role, McCarthy said his goal is to double Ben & Jerry’s social impact by maintaining and growing the brand’s value in the marketplace, as well as by giving back to the community. The leadership change comes shortly after Ben & Jerry’s announced its first ice cream-free innovation: snackable cookie dough.

Spudsy Adds Experienced CPG Exec

Puff maker Spudsy may be the new brand on the shelf, but its team is made up of familiar faces in CPG.

Ashley Boeckle, co-founder of Buff Bake, left the protein-infused nut butters and cookie brand last month to focus full time on her new company. Now Boeckle is bringing in reinforcements. Earlier this month, Boeckle added t Mitchell Brantley to act as the company’s president. Prior to joining Spudsy, Brantley held senior management roles at companies including Goldthread Herbs and Quaker Oats / Pacific Snapple Distributors.

“Mitch’s experience with startups in this space and building them to national and global CPG brands is exactly what Spudsy needs,” Boeckle told NOSH. “I have been a fan of this man since I met him at Expo West three years ago. We instantly clicked and I have always wanted to work with him. I know [he] will help get our baby Spudsy off the ground fast.”

While Brantley will focus on the company’s sales and finances, Boeckle said she will continue to lead operations, manufacturing, product development and marketing. Currently the brand is focusing on direct-to-consumer sales and meeting the demands of its successful Kickstarter campaign that launched earlier in the month.

Sarah’s Snacks Loses Sarah

The co-founder and former CEO of Sarah’s Sweet & Savory Snacks, formerly known as Nuts About Granola, announced this week that she’s stepping away from her namesake brand.

Sarah Lanphier sent an email to colleagues and customers on Monday that she is parting ways with the company. In her new role as Director of Customer Commercialization at Wolfgang Confectioners Lanphier will be responsible for the sales and client management of the company’s emerging brands segment. Gayle Lanphier, a registered dietician nutritionist and Sarah’s Snacks owner and operator, will take over as CEO of the brand effective immediately.

“When I started the process of exiting Nuts About Granola, I did not know where I was going next, but I knew it was time for me to start a new journey,” Sarah Lanphier wrote in the email. “Entrepreneurship is a crazy journey and one that I will never regret.”

Other notable hires include:

  • Daily Harvest Adds VP of Product: Last month, Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy announced she was joining the subscription box maker’s team. She will be leading efforts in product management and design to bring the customer’s digital experience “to the next level.”
  • Soylent Grows Team: The makers of Soylent, Rosa Foods, announced earlier this month that it has hired Demir Vangelov, Benjamin Cariou, and Andrew Thomas to join the team as the brand’s CFO, vice president of digital acquisition and e-commerce, and vice president of brand marketing, respectively.
  • Nature’s Bounty Focuses on Communication: The leading health brand hired Amy von Walter to act as the company’s chief communications officer. Von Walter, who formerly held communications roles at companies including Toys R Us, Best Buy and Target, will focus on internal and external communications as well as government affairs and corporate social responsibility.
  • Kroger Promotes Gil Phipps: The retailer announced this month that Gil Phipps, former vice president of Our Brands, the company’s private label line, was promoted to vice president of branding, marketing and Our Brands, effective August 15. Since joining the company in 2012, Phipps helped transform Our Brands through changes to formulations, branding and marketing, as well as through adding new brands.

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