Food Industry Business: A Bumper Crop of New CEOs

Baby Boomers (and one Gen Xer) are taking the helms of top food companies.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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On the demand side, Smith doesn't see any decline in U.S. protein consumption in 2011, but it looks like growth will be limited.

"In foodservice, if current trends hold, we predict sales to be about unchanged to maybe up 1 percent," he said. "Several foodservice operators are reporting positive comps, but there are still plenty signs of weakness. We think chicken volume at foodservice may be up around 1 percent in 2011 [driven by lower supplies and higher prices of competing animal proteins]. Intuitively, you would think chicken demand would improve as beef and pork prices increase, but there doesn't appear to be protein substitution on the menus at this point."

"Consumers are still cautious about the economy," he sums. "With that said, based on everything we can see now, 2011 will be a good year for us because of our multi-protein, multi-channel business model."

CEO: John Bryant, Kellogg Co.

One Australian native just handed the baton to another at Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co.. John Bryant – at 45, he's among the first wave of Generation X -- was promoted from COO to president/CEO effective Jan. 2, following the announcement that A. D. David Mackay decided to retire after four years as CEO to spend more time with his family.

"While there is no question that 2011 is going to continue to be a tough environment for the entire industry, Kellogg is focused on regaining our momentum to deliver the sustainable results that we've seen for most of the last decade," Bryant, told Food Processing. "Our categories are very responsive to brand-building, innovation and nutrition. We plan to further increase our investment and activities in these key areas."

Kellogg is one of several companies we noted in our Top 100© report that saw its sales dip in 2009 (down 2 percent to $12.6 billion worldwide) but its net income increase (up 6 percent to $1.2 billion). But it hasn't been easy. Kellogg expects low single-digit internal net sales growth in 2011, flat to down 2 percent internal operating profit, and low single-digit earnings-per-share growth.

With all those numbers to crunch, maybe the company needs to be led by an accountant.

Bryant received his bachelor's degree in commerce from Australian National University and is a chartered accountant of the Institute of Chartered Accountants In Australia. He also earned an MBA from University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He held a leadership position with Lion Nathan Australia, a beer, wine and spirits distributor, where he served as a planning director from 1997-1998.

Bryant joined Kellogg in 1998 and has held numerous leadership roles. He led the Kellogg North America and Kellogg International business units, served as CFO from 2002 to 2004, as well as from 2006 to 2009, and assumed his the role of COO in 2008. Last July he was elected to the board of directors.

Bryant kind of dodged our question about changes he plans to make now that he is CEO. "One of the great things about this company is our rich heritage of success -- we have more than 100 years of legacy that we are building on. Our goal is to leverage that great strength and to bring it to life in the future. This requires us to change our approach with the changing consumer landscape. For example, we have an increased focus on areas such as Hispanic marketing and social media."

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