New York — Kellogg’s CEO is retiring and will be succeeded by an executive from a vitamin and protein bar company, as packaged food makers try to keep customers who are looking for healthier products.
The maker of Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts and Eggo waffles said Chief Executive John Bryant will be replaced by Steven Cahillane, an executive from The Nature’s Bounty Co. That company makes Balance bars, Solgar supplements and Ester-C vitamins.
Cahillane will start as CEO next week and will join the company’s board. Bryant, 51, will remain executive chairman of the board until March, when Cahillane will take over that role. Cahillane, 52, has also worked at soda company Coca-Cola Co. and beer maker AB InBev.
Kellogg has struggled to make its cereals and snacks more appealing to Americans who are increasingly seeking to avoid processed food. Its revenue has fallen every year since 2013.
Bryant said Cahillane’s experience at Nature’s Bounty would help Kellogg adjust to consumers’ demand for healthier food, but that it wouldn’t apply to all of Kellogg’s products.
“I think in our cereal business, health and wellness is important,” Bryant said. “The snacks business is more about indulgence and taste.”
Packaged food conglomerates have been trying to appeal more to consumers who favor fresher foods, smaller, local brands and are worried about the ingredients they eat. Battle Creek, Michigan-based Kellogg has said it will add probiotics to its Special K cereal later this year to try to boost sales.
Kellogg and competitors like General Mills and Post have also been cutting costs and changing strategies as consumer trends shift away from processed foods. General Mills, which makes Cheerios and Trix cereals, also replaced its CEO back in June.
Bryant acknowledged the changes taking place in the packaged food industry, but said Kellogg is prepared to navigate it.
“The Kellogg company was founded on health and wellness, so it’s not a new move for us,” Bryant said. “It’s a continuation of that belief the company has in delivering products that help people live a healthier and happier life.”
Bryant would not say whether Kellogg had plans to cut jobs or drop certain lagging brands.
Shares of Kellogg Co., which are down about 15 percent since the beginning of the year, slipped 43 cents to $62.62 in trading Thursday.
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