Ladies of Food & Beverage Top Fortune List

Sep 14, 2009

See Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business list

Fortune magazine in mid-September announced its annual list of the 50 most powerful women in business, and the top three spots belong to ladies of the food & beverage industry. So does No. 10.

For the fourth year in a row, Indra Nooyi leads the pack. At age 53, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc. “deliver[s] strong profits on $43 billion in sales. Her August deal to buy Pepsi’s two biggest bottlers should produce some $300 million in annual cost savings.” But the magazine notes one weak spot: “Consumers panned the rebranding of Gatorade and Tropicana.”

No. 2 is Kraft Foods Inc.’s Irene Rosenfeld, also a chairman and CEO. The 56-year-old “pianist and avid Rollerblader has advertised heavily during the recession to keep sales of macaroni and cheese and Kool-Aid flowing. Revenue was up 15 percent in 2008, and the stock -- a recent addition to the Dow 30 -- outperformed the S&P over the past year.”

Patricia Woertz, chairman, CEO and president of Archer Daniels Midland Co., is third. The 53-year-old former oil company executive “bet big on ethanol, and ADM's stock has risen 15 percent over the past 12 months.” She also sits on the Procter & Gamble board.

All three women held the exact same places in the magazine’s previous year’s ranking.

The only other woman on the list was Sara Lee’s Brenda Barnes at No. 10. The chairman and CEO, 55, “has shed businesses that made up 40 percent of revenue. Still, the stock has flagged.” She was No. 9 last year.

By the way, Oprah Winfrey was No. 6.

Now, what do they make? According to a separate Fortune list:
Rosenfeld $16 million (no. 7)
Woertz $15 million (No. 9)
Nooyi $14.9 million (No. 10)
Barnes $10.5 million (No. 15)

The magazine also notes: “In 1998 when the Most Powerful Women in Business list premiered, just two of our honorees ran Fortune 500 companies. This year 13 do.”