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Kellogg’s top executive to retire amid food industry turbulence

BY Thursday, September 28, 2017 04:07pm

BATTLE CREEK — John Bryant will retire from his position as the top executive of Kellogg Co. next week.

Bryant, who has served as the Battle Creek-based company’s CEO for the last seven years, will be replaced by Steven Cahillane. Cahillane previously served as the top executive of Nature’s Bounty, a New York-based manufacturer of vitamins and other health and wellness products. He has also held executive-level positions at Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser Busch Inbev NV.

Bryant will remain in his role as Chairman of the Board until March 15, when Cahillane will take over that role as well.

While Kellogg made clear in a statement that Bryant retired voluntarily — something Bryant confirmed. The move comes amid turbulence in the processed snack and food markets, as this shakeup marks yet another public food company executive retiring in recent months.

Top executives have left Mondelez International Inc., Hershey Co. and General Mills Inc. in the last year, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Some experts pin the spate of executive departures on a volatile market for snack and processed foods, particularly as consumers turn to fresh food alternatives and as e-commerce retailers such as Amazon enter the food business.

For its part, Kellogg has been busy since 2013 battling a decline in annual sales, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

To increase profitability as sales declined, Kellogg has turned to multiple rounds of layoffs. In September, the food giant announced it would layoff 223 workers at its Battle Creek facility in 2018 as part of a larger restructuring program, according to a previous MiBiz report.Earlier this year, the company announced it was laying off 250 workers as part of the same cost-cutting program. 

Now, Kellogg is banking on Cahillane’s experience outside the snack food industry to bring further profitability to the global food manufacturer.

“With his breadth of experience, he truly understands the global marketplace in which we are operating as well as the consumer and retailer trends that will serve as potent sources of growth for Kellogg going forward,” Donald Knauss, lead director of Kellogg’s Board of Directors, said in a statement regarding Cahillane. “Further, Steve possesses strong strategic thinking ability, understands the levers that drive business performance and has demonstrated an ability to build and inspire outstanding teams. Steve is the right person to energize our teams and bring new thinking to our company as we seek to achieve our long-term growth objectives.”

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