- Mike Barkley, who joined Kind last fall as president and COO, will become the snack company's new CEO. Barkley previously worked at food and beverage CPG companies, including Pinnacle Foods, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo.
- Kind said in a statement that founder Daniel Lubetzky will become the company's executive chairman where he will focus on "a variety of strategic initiatives."
- Kind also announced the appointment of other executives with food experience. Dan Poland, who will become COO, oversaw the supply chain previously at Pinnacle Foods, and before that Danone WhiteWave North America. Doug Behrens, appointed as chief customer officer, was president of Amplify Snack Brands after working as the chief customer officer at Danone WhiteWave.
For a company that established itself as a maker of low sugar, protein-packed bars with recognizable ingredients, Kind has moved beyond its signature snacks quickly in recent years. The changes in its executive ranks mirrors the shift in the company's product mix and is indicative of the broader ambitions of a company founded by Lubetzky in 2004.
In May, the company released its first product in the frozen category. Kind Frozen is available exclusively at Walmart. Two years ago, it moved beyond bars with the introduction of a line of fruit snacks called Kind Fruit Bites. The product is made only with real fruit and contains no added sugar, juices, purees, concentrates, preservatives or genetically engineered ingredients.
Kind also has discussed the healthy side of its snacks compared to those of its competitors by highlighting the different sweeteners and sugar sources hidden in top-selling snacks through an online database. And last fall, it announced it was working with public health experts to file a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update how the agency regulates nutrient content claims on food products.
Kind is clearly no longer just a bar company, branching out to become a more complete snack maker. As a result, the complexities of developing new products, sourcing ingredients, working with retailers and distributing its portfolio becomes harder. In addition, Kind may increasingly find itself butting heads with other CPG companies manufacturing similar products — and who, because of their size and legacy, likely have a major head start and name recognition.
While Lubetzky excelled in building Kind during his 15 years at the helm, the fact that the executive ranks are beng filled in one singular action with people who have worked at companies like Pinnacle, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and Danone WhiteWave shows the company means business. Interestingly, none of the new additions come from MarsWrigley, which bought a minority stake in Kind in 2017.
It order to effectively compete and expand its reach around the globe, Kind needs people who know how makers of different iconic food and beverage products operate. They also need to know how the popular snack maker can be more agile in competing with these industry heavyweights.
"These appointments come at an incredibly exciting time for Kind as we seek to bolster our leadership in our current categories, while also entering new categories and rapidly expanding our global footprint," Barkley said in a statement. "We believe these additions to our leadership team will help us achieve our vision of becoming a foremost global health and wellness leader."
Despite the sudden change at the top, Lubetzky isn't going anywhere. As executive chairman, he will be able to devote more of his attention to plotting out the always ambiguous "strategic initiatives" rather than having to worry about the day-to-day operations of Kind. His vision ultimately was responsible for enabling Kind to compete with established bar makers like General Mills' Nature Valley and newer upstarts like RXBAR, now owned by Kellogg. Having Kind's long-time leader involved will be vital for the snack company's future success.
As more U.S. consumers turn to healthy, better-for-you snacks for nutrition and to quell their hunger, the segment is undoubtedly going to become more competitive. Kind's addition to its executive ranks should enable it to more quickly respond to changing consumer demands and increasingly cutthroat competition.