Kettle cooks up new vision with help of Global CEO

Kettle Foods, Salem, Ore., has welcomed a consumer products veteran, Paul Davis, as its first Global CEO. Davis most recently was president of Barilla North America, where he helped the world’s largest pasta company dramatically widen its market leadership position through new products and innovative advertising. Now he’ll focus on unleashing the potential of Kettle Foods’ core product line, all-natural Kettle brand Potato Chips.

"We are so fortunate to welcome Paul to the Kettle Foods family," said Cameron Healy, founder of Kettle Foods. "Paul connects with our rich company culture and deep heritage in the natural food industry, while bringing a healthy dose of consumer product experience to lead us into the next stage of growth, our most ambitious yet. He’s the perfect catalyst to propel us into the future."

Previously Davis served as President, North America, of Starbucks Coffee Company, where he led a major re-engineering initiative that helped the company double the number of new store locations per year all the while achieving industry-high employee satisfaction ratings. He also spent nearly 15 years at Frito-Lay where his most recent assignment was as President of Frito-Lay Canada. While there, he significantly grew market share through new product launches, partnerships and creative marketing campaigns.

Davis will oversee Kettle Foods' 600 employees and manufacturing operations in the U.S. and U.K. In the U.S., Davis will help deepen product distribution, particularly in East Coast markets, while nurturing the company’s culture of innovation, care and environmental stewardship. In the U.K., where the Kettle brand is a market leader in the premium chip category, Davis will focus on expediting new innovative products to market.

"Kettle is one of the most respected brands in the natural food category, with an unbelievable fan base – one of the most loyal I’ve seen in my career," said Davis. "I feel honored to be trusted with the next stage in the company’s journey. Kettle Foods forged its own path more than 25 years ago by committing itself to great tasting, all-natural snacks without any short cuts. Now, with demand for natural snacks growing at double-digit rates, we want to make sure our products are on the shelves when consumers go looking."

Consumers are demanding healthier, less processed food. Category growth for natural salty snacks increased 17% in 2004, according to AC Nielsen, while the traditional salty snack category remained flat in mainstream grocery. Kettle brand Potato Chips lead the potato chip category with a 36% market share. Specifically, the brand’s Krinkle Cut Kettle Potato Chips is the top selling item in the category.

To help facilitate continued growth, the company also accepted its first outside investment last year from Catterton Partners, one of the nation’s leading consumer focused private equity firms, which now owns a minority stake in the company. "We’re strongly connected with the Kettle brand, and impressed by its quality and natural food leadership. With Cameron’s vision and legacy, and Paul’s leadership, Kettle Foods is poised for tremendous growth," said J. Michael Chu, managing partner of Catterton Partners.

Company founder Healy remains active in the company as Chairman of the Board. He is particularly involved in Kettle Foods' sustainability initiatives, which include a restored wetland on the company’s Oregon property; one of the largest solar arrays in the Pacific Northwest installed on the roof of its Salem factory; and the recycling of the company’s healthy cooking oil into biodiesel that fuels a growing fleet of company cars. Long-time co-owner Tim Meyer also continues as an active board member.

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