SunOpta Inc., maker of plant-based foods and beverages, today (Dec. 6) announced the planned retirement of CEO Joseph Ennen. His replacement is Brian Kocher, who comes over from Calavo Growers.
Ennen has been CEO for five years, executing a portfolio transformation and strengthening the public company’s balance sheet. He also will retire from the board of directors, although he will continue as an advisor to the board and company until April 1, 2024.
SunOpta began 50 years ago as StakeTech, converting biomass to animal feed using steam technology. It evolved into a food company and adopted its current name in 2003. Under Ennen, it turned to value-added products, both plant-based and fruit-based, although it sold off some of its fruit products in October to Nature’s Touch. In 2021, it bought the Dream and Westsoy non-dairy beverage brands from Hain Celestial Group.
Kocher was president and CEO of Calavo Growers Inc., a global avocado-provider, and earlier held the same titles at Castellini Group of Companies, a nationwide produce distribution and supply chain service organization. Prior to Castellini, Kocher spent 10 years at Chiquita Brands International in a number of top executive positions, culminating as interim CEO.
SunOpta was Food Processing’s 2022 R&D Team of the Year in the large-company category.