Even after profiling the nation's leading 150 refrigerated and frozen food processors, Editor Bob Garrison is thinking about others not on the list.


by Bob Garrison

After writing about 150 food industry executives, you’d think I’d want a break. Yet this research has me thinking about industry change, transitions … and even more people not on the list. For example …

… Nestle’s purchase of Kraft Pizza has me remembering Mary Kay Haben. This active executive-mom (with toys in the office for her children) led DiGiorno’s national marketing campaign and product launch in the mid-1990s.

… Pinnacle Foods’ recent deal for Birds Eye has me thinking of Dennis Mullen, who skillfully led the Pro-Fac Cooperative through a tremendous period of change and growth from the mid-1990s to 2005. Mullen led Pro-Fac/Agrilink’s purchase of Birds Eye from Dean Foods Vegetable. Later, Mullen would give way to Neil Harrison and Bob Montgomery, still more savvy CPG veterans who took Birds Eye even further.

…  JBS USA’s acquisition of Pilgrim’s Pride reminds me of driving through eastern Texas in 1991 to meet and interview Bo Pilgrim. At the time, the 63-year-old chairman was talking about a two-year goal of reaching $1 billion in annual sales.

With that, I realize our Top 150 Food Processors feature is nothing more than a Polaroid snapshot in a digital world. And this reminds me about the underlying challenge in change (Recognize some of the same letters in those two words?).

American social writer and philosopher Eric Hoffer (once a San Francisco longshoreman) wrote: “In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

As someone who’s covered the food industry for two decades, let me say how much I respect these aforementioned executives – and so many more – who have led organizations through change. Hoffer’s quote certainly speaks about the importance of embracing challenge, change and continual learning.

R&FF in transition too…

With this issue, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods is embracing change as well. Now more closely aligned with Food Engineering (a sister BNP Media publication), R&FF will keep its stand-alone circulation to industry executives throughout the cold chain. Meanwhile, this book will start riding along with FE to an even wider operations executive audience (where appropriate).

Behind the scenes, we’re re-casting R&FF’s editorial mission and presentation. We plan to better address your temperature-sensitive issues and topics (including energy management, the cold supply chain, food safety, and cold food packaging) while we say goodbye to other topics – such as product development – better left to magazines such as BNP’s Prepared Foods.