Kraft Heinz appoints new CEO, UNFI elects new director, and more personnel shifts
The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), Arlington, Va.
Megan Costello was promoted to chief operating officer. Costello started with GCCA in 2013 as vice president of member programs and services, responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the organization. Her efforts led to the association’s international growth, including new offices in Europe, Brazil and South Africa. Costello maintains more than 25 years of association experience, including as managing director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. And, Catharine Perry was promoted to vice president of member programs and services. Perry has worked for GCCA since 2012, expanding the WFLO Institute to three locations and increasing attendance by 30% to 500 participants. Perry also launched multiple workforce development initiatives under the strategic plan and a future leader recognition program on four continents. She maintains 11 years of experience in associations, including with the Animal Agriculture Alliance and the National FFA Organization.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Denver, Colo.
Kendal Frazier, chief executive officer, announced plans to retire, effective Dec. 31, after 34 years with the company. Frazier's career began as a farm broadcaster before serving as director of communications for Kansas Livestock Association. He then joined the National Cattlemen’s Association (NCA), predecessor organization to NCBA, and when NCA merged with the National Live Stock and Meat Board in 1996, Frazier was a member of the team who worked with staff and beef industry volunteer leaders to address a steep decline in demand. Frazier was also instrumental in helping secure the passage of the checkoff referendum and worked to secure resources for the first checkoff-funded public relations and issues management work conducted by NCBA as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff in 1998. During his tenure as CEO, he improved domestic and international demand for beef.
The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), Madison, Wis.
Dave Buholzer, treasurer of Klondike Cheese Co., was elected president of the board of directors, effective July 1. Steve Bechel, vice president of operations for Eau Galle Cheese Factory, will serve as first vice president, while Chris Sandretti, vice president of ERP division lead for Saputo Cheese USA will serve as second vice president. Mike Neu, senior vice president of business development, food production for Chr. Hansen, was elected treasurer, and Greg Siegenthaler, vice president milk marketing and supply chain for Grande Cheese Co., was elected secretary. Mike Hinrichsen, vice president of manufacturing for Associated Milk Producers, Inc.; Randy LaGrander, owner of LaGrander’s Hillside Dairy; Tim Omer, president and managing director of Emmi Roth USA; and Mike Sipple, vice president technical services of Agropur Inc., will join the 2019-20 board of directors. Retiring from the board are current president Kim Heiman, co-owner of Nasonville Dairy; current first vice president Kerry Henning, master cheesemaker of Henning’s Cheese; Kyle Jensen, vice president and general manager of Hilmar Cheese; Jeff Kent, senior vice president cheese and butter for Foremost Farms USA; and Matt Zimbric, senior director of cheese technology for Foremost Farms USA.
International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), Des Moines, Iowa
Dr. Michelle Danyluk was elected secretary for a 5-year term. Danyluk has served as president of the association since July 2022. Danyluk is an associate professor and extension specialist of food safety and microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida, with interests in microbial food safety and quality and emphasizing the microbiology of fruit juices, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. Danyluk’s extension program includes teaching processing programs related to FSMA, HACCP, GAPS and other specialized food safety, security and beverages to stakeholders. An IAFP member since 2002, Danyluk has organized, convened and presented several IAFP symposia. She also participates in professional development groups, and has served on several committees, including the Program Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Food Protection Trends Management Committee and various Awards Selection Committees.
Kraft Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Miguel Patricio was appointed chief executive officer, effective July 1, succeeding Bernardo Hees, who has served as CEO for the past 6 years. A native of Portugal, Patricio will join the company after a 2-decade career at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), where he served as part of the executive leadership team in various positions. For example, he served as global chief marketing officer from 2012-2018, where he helped develop and implement a strategic playbook for Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois, accelerating organic sales growth to high single digits. Prior to that, he was AB InBev’s president of Asia Pacific from 2008-2012, where he set the foundation for the growth of the China business, including the Budweiser brand, and expanding the growth of local brands such as Harbin. He also served as president of North America from 2006-2008, and has worked at other consumer companies, including Philip Morris, The Coca-Cola Co. and Johnson & Johnson in Latin America, New Jersey and Georgia.
United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), Providence, R.I.
James Muehlbauer joined the board of directors, effective April 22. Muehlbauer most recently served as executive vice president and CFO for The Valspar Corp. from 2013-2017, prior to its acquisition by The Sherwin-Williams Co. in June 2017. Before joining Valspar, Muehlbauer served as executive vice president and CFO of Best Buy Co., Inc. from 2007-2013; senior vice president and CFO of Best Buy's domestic businesses from 2003-2007; and vice president and CFO of Musicland from 2002-2003. Since 2011, Muehlbauer has served on the board of overseers for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Likewise, Sean Griffin will take on the expanded role of chief operating officer in addition to serving as chief executive officer of SUPERVALU, effective April 22, where he will oversee all UNFI's sales, services, operations, merchandising and retail functions. During his 9-year tenure with UNFI, Griffin has served in several senior leadership roles, including chief operating officer from 2014-2018. He has served as SUPERVALU CEO since October 2018. Prior to joining UNFI, Griffin was East region broadline president of Performance Food Group, and has held various leadership roles of increasing responsibility in the foodservice distribution industry with U.S. Foodservice, Alliant Foodservice and Sysco Corp.
Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif.
Fred Berry, senior account manager, announced plans to retire May 31, after decades of service to the produce industry. Berry joined the company in 2015, helping to cultivate direct-to-retail relationships within the company’s citrus category and beyond. Prior to his time with Homegrown, Berry worked as the director of marketing for Mulholland Citrus, and maintained relationships with industry boards and affiliations such as California Citrus Mutual and California Fresh Fruit Association.
Renaissance Food Group (RFG), Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Kim St George joined as vice president business development, responsible for developing a strategic plan to support existing business channels while focusing on new growth opportunities. St George maintains over 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the produce industry, with background in brand strategy, communication, customer engagement, product development and packaging expertise in the value-added retail and club markets. Prior to RFG, St George served as director of sales and marketing at Mann Packing Co., Inc., where she worked directly with U.S. and Canadian customers to develop and manage the company’s value-added private brand and club portfolios. She has also held marketing roles at Taylor Farms Retail and River Ranch Fresh Foods.
FiveStar Gourmet Foods, Ontario, Calif.
Phil Abreo was appointed vice president of sales West. Abreo started his career as an Albertson’s store manager, and maintains over 19 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry. He most recently served as sales director at True Food Innovations, and previously held senior level positions with Naked Juice, owned by Pepsi Co., where he created one of the brands most successful variety pack products. Abreo has also led account growth within the military, retail, convenience and foodservice channels.
NaturalShrimp, Inc., Dallas, Texas
Douwe Iedema was named the corporate chef. Iedema maintains more than 20 years of experience planning and directing the operations of large restaurants and events, driving top-class performance metrics and revenue growth and enhancing productivity and profitability. He has served as an executive chef in his native country for six years, overseeing multiple food outlets for more than 8,000 military personnel from 28 delegations assigned to NATO’s Northern Headquarters, Europe. He has since served as executive chef at restaurants in Dallas, Livingston, Texas; and Shreveport, La.
Foundation Food Group, Inc. (FFG), Gainesville, Ga.
Dr. Kirby Childs was named vice president of food safety and technical services. Childs maintains over 16 years of experience in leadership roles spearheading food safety, quality assurance, product innovation, R&D and more for firms such as OK Foods, Albertville Quality Foods, Lopez Foods, Inc. and Otto & Sons (OSI Group). His experience ranges from government regulations to product development and customer relations in all facets of food processing across multiple proteins—from production to harvesting and further processing.
Chicago Meat Authority, Chicago
Andrew Pipitone joins as chief financial officer. Pipitone has spent the last 15 years in executive-level financial positions with Greif, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Before that, he worked as a certified public accountant for a mid-size Chicago accounting firm.
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Lake Success, N.Y.
Jeff George was appointed to the newly created role of senior vice president of research and development, responsible for leading the R&D team. George has been consulting with the company for the past 5 months. He will play an integral role in helping Hain Celestial simplify its portfolio, strengthen capabilities, reinvigorate top-line growth and expand margins and cash flow.
Butterball, Garner, N.C.
Suzanne Griffin was promoted to senior vice president, general counsel and chief risk officer, assuming direct responsibility for environmental and workplace safety management as well as providing oversight for other risk-related issues. Griffin previously served as Butterball’s senior vice president, general counsel and secretary since joining the company in 2012. She maintains a broad legal background in agriculture, industry and finance, providing legal advice to senior management and working closely with the business lines on business and commercial issues. Prior to joining Butterball, Griffin’s legal career included senior legal positions with Continental Grain Co. and RBC Bank as well as law firm experience.
California Dairies, Inc. (CDI), Visalia, Calif.
Andrei Mikhalevsky, president and CEO, announced his intent to retire, effective Dec. 31.
Panera Bread, St. Louis, Mo.
Niren Chaudhary was named president and CEO, succeeding Blaine Hurst, who is retiring from his current role as chief executive officer, effective May 23, when Hurst will become vice chairman. Chaudhary has served as chief operating officer of Krispy Kreme and president of Krispy Kreme International since 2017. Previously, Chaudhary spent 23 years with Yum! Brands in a variety of executive positions. He maintains more than 25 years of international corporate leadership experience in the food retail and hospitality industry.
Golbon, Boise, Idaho
Ranae Kopet joined as director of category management. Kopet maintains 30 years of experience with buying groups, local distributors and corporate level category management. She has been with the Food Services of American for the past 25 years.
Norfolk Southern (NS), Norfolk, Va.
Thomas Schnautz was named to the newly created position of vice president advanced train control, effective May 1, responsible for the deployment and maintenance of positive train control and other advanced technologies, communications and signals systems and locomotives. Schnautz joined NS in 1993 as an engineering management trainee, and has held positions of increasing responsibility in both the engineering and mechanical departments. Since June 2018, he has served in the engineering department as assistant vice president C&S and advanced train control, leading the company’s efforts to install and implement PTC technologies. Meanwhile, Edward Boyle Jr. joined as vice president engineering, also effective May 1, replacing Phil Merilli, upon his retirement from the company. Boyle will be responsible for the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of railroad infrastructure, including track, bridges and vehicle fleet. Boyle joined the company in 1994 as an engineering management trainee, and has held positions of increasing responsibility in both the engineering and transportation departments. Since October 2015, he has served in the engineering department as assistant vice president maintenance of way and structures. Merilli retires after a railroad career spanning more than 40 years. He joined an NS predecessor line in 1981 as an assistant roadmaster. During his years at NS, Merilli served in a variety of engineering positions, including track supervisor, division engineer, chief engineer line maintenance and AVP maintenance of way and structures. He was named vice president engineering in October 2015.
Viega LLC, Broomfield, Colo.
Terry Samona was named vice president of human resources, overseeing human resources management and development at the company’s headquarters, seminar center in Broomfield, Colo.; a manufacturing plant and distribution hub in McPherson, Kan.; three additional distribution centers in Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania; and a seminar center in Nashua, N.H. Previously, he was vice president of human resources at Hach Environmental, and has held leadership positions at Honeywell International and Entergy Corp.
Automated Packaging Systems, Streetsboro, Ohio
Jay Patras was promoted to vice president of sales, North America, succeeding Brad Worman, who has retired after 40 years with the company. Patras is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the company’s North American sales channel and its full line of Autobag, SidePouch and AirPouch machines and materials. Most recently, Patras served as national field sales director, and prior to that, was the Northeast regional business director, where he managed both the sales and service operations for that region. He joined Automated Packaging in 2007 as area sales manager, which then led to a promotion to district sales manager.
SKUxchange, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Rich Staten joined as vice president of brand and CPG beverage, leading the development of new and innovative consumer packaged goods (CPG) beverage strategies. For the past 22 years, Staten has served in senior leadership roles in marketing, brand innovation, technology applications and business development at The Coca-Cola Co., most recently as director of strategic planning. Prior to Coca-Cola, he was a senior consultant at Deloitte, where he developed extensive experience in both retail and foodservice, including supermarkets, mass merchants, convenience, drug, club, value, e-commerce, restaurants, sports, hospitability, leisure and strategic marketing partner assets.
Malin Brodén was hired as new marketing director. Brodén maintains over 20 years of experience in marketing in the consumer goods and food business, including developing innovative strategies as well as executing marketing, communications and action plans. Most recently, she was strategic project manager at Paulig Foods, and prior to that, held a number of marketing roles, including marketing manager at Nordic.