A wave of top-level executive change is breaking over the CPG industry at a crucial time. Food price inflation, higher commodity costs and already-delicate trading partner relationships are placing enormous pressure on a new class of CEOs.
Big-name manufacturers like the Campbell Soup Co. and Del Monte are in transition, while the Kellogg Co. is settling down to business after the arrival last month of John Bryant, 45, who succeeds David Mackay as president and CEO.
As he gets acquainted with his new role, SN asked Bryant about what he brings to the breakfast table and how it will affect retailer relations.
SN: What are some of the challenges that lay ahead for you as Kellogg’s new CEO?
John Bryant: As we move into 2011, we anticipate that Europe will be one of our most challenging operating environments. The weak economy combined with commodity price inflation will continue to pressure our business. This year we have a stronger innovation pipeline and commercial plans to drive top-line growth. It will continue to be a challenging operating environment, but we believe we are establishing a solid foundation to regain our momentum, deliver our 2011 goals, and position the company for long-term growth.
SN: How is Kellogg ensuring a smooth transition?
JB: We are pleased that David Mackay is staying on through the end of March to help ensure a smooth transition, and I have been involved in both the strategic and operational direction of Kellogg Co. for more than a decade. We are fortunate to have a deep and talented leadership team and are confident that our team is well prepared to drive the business forward.
SN: A search for the new head of supply chain is underway and David Denholm is stepping into the morning foods role in the U.S. What do these changes, and you taking over the helm, mean for supermarket retailers?
JB: While we have had a few organizational changes that would have taken place regardless, we have a great team in place with significant longevity with the company and we are excited about the year ahead. We’re committed to providing our customers with the same strong level of partnership that they expect from Kellogg.
SN: Will things remain the same as they were or will there be more opportunities to collaborate on promotions, for instance, or more innovative products?
JB: Customers can count on Kellogg to drive engagement with consumers through insight-driven promotions and innovative brand-building events. We’ll also continue to leverage partners such as Disney, who have proven popular with consumers and our customers. Product innovation is a priority for us as well. Already this year we’ve seen the effects of our strong innovation, as retailers have been giving us excellent quality merchandising. Consumers are already responding well to new products like Crunchy Nut cereal and Special K Cracker Chips.
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