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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Meanwhile, Brian Driscoll was instrumental in Kraft Foods' early 2010 acquisition of Cadbury PLC. He was Kraft's president of sales, customer service and logistics. Perhaps he, too, felt "mission accomplished," and it was time to move on to another challenge.

Well, they found each other. Driscoll, 51, was appointed CEO of Hostess Brands in June 2010.

Driscoll earned his B.S. degree from St. John's University College of Business Administration, and completed Northwestern University's Kellogg School CEO Perspective Program while at Kraft. He began his career in 1980 as a metro New York sales rep for Procter & Gamble, rising in the sales ranks before joining Nestlé Foods in 1985, where he served in a variety of executive roles in sales and management. In 1995, he joined Nabisco to lead their warehouse products sales and integrated logistics organization, then was promoted to senior vice president for biscuit direct store delivery sales and customer service.

He went to Kraft when it acquired Nabisco in 2000.

"Hostess is an iconic brand name in the fresh-baked bread and sweet goods sector, and I believe we have many opportunities to leverage our brand and expand market share," says Driscoll.

"We are moving into a new phase of growth at Hostess Brands which we believe parallels perfectly with the broad food experience that Brian brings to Hostess," said Chairman John Cahill. "Brian is a proven leader with the ability to unlock brand power, enhance distribution systems, and inspire people. We are confident that he will quickly gain the trust of our valued employees, as well as customers at more than 190,000 locations across the nation."

Operating 39 bakeries throughout the U.S. with some 21,000 employees and with 2009 revenues estimated at $2.7 billion, Hostess has some challenges ahead. At a time when consumers want foods perceived as natural, healthy and premium, changes will likely be made in its sweet goods, or snacks. Bread, on the other hand, is a real opportunity. Hostess has partnered with the National Sodium Reduction Initiative (NSRI), to reduce sodium levels in its bread portfolio by 2012. And the introduction of the Nature's Pride bread, a line of whole wheat bread with no corn sugar, trans fats or artificial ingredients, was the centerpiece of post-bankruptcy new products activity in 2009. The introduction proved pivotal in the overall 7.7 percent gain in unit sales for Hostess in 2009, as measured by Symphony IRI.

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