- Mondelez International CEO and chairman Irene Rosenfeld, 64, will step down as chief executive in November, according to a company release.
- Rosenfeld will be succeeded by Dirk Van de Put, currently the president and CEO of Canada-based McCain Foods. She will continue to serve as chairman of the company's board of directors until March 31, 2018, when she will retire and Van de Put takes over that role.
- "The Board and I are confident that Dirk Van de Put is the right leader to take us forward. He is a seasoned global CEO, having lived and worked on three different continents, with deep experience and expertise in all critical business and commercial operations in both emerging and developed markets," Rosenfeld said the release. "Throughout his career, Dirk has had a proven track record of driving top-line and category growth, while at the same time improving cost structures and profitability. And he has achieved these results with a values-based leadership style and steadfast focus on people."
Earlier this year, Mondelez partnered with executive search-firm Heidrick & Struggles International to find a successor for Rosenfeld, who has served as chief executive of Mondelez for 11 years. This came as a surprise to the food industry, especially since Rosenfeld had stated in February she had no plans to leave her position and that Mondelez had no mandatory retirement age.
Rosenfeld was a powerful force in Mondelez's trajectory during the past few years. After she became CEO of Kraft in 2006, she purchased Cadbury for close to $20 billion before splitting Kraft into two companies, creating Mondelez, what was once Kraft's global snacking business. Last year, Rosenfeld bid $25 billion on Hershey, but Mondelez — which is worth nearly $70 billion — ultimately ended discussions with the chocolate giant, citing recent shareholder changes at Hershey.
“I had the courage to make some bold moves that weren’t the easy route but were the right route," Rosenfeld told Fortune, referring to herself as a "chess player, not a checkers player" who tries to stay two to three moves ahead of her competition.
Rosenfeld is leaving Mondelez in a volatile period for the food industry landscape thanks to growing consumer interest in fresh and simple, recognizable ingredients and currency headwinds. In it's Q2 earnings release Wednesday, Mondelez exceeded analyst expectations, but still saw revenue fall.
It will be interesting to see how the company fares when Van de Put takes the helm. In addition to serving as chief executive of Canada-based McCain Foods, a $7.3 billion maker of french fries and potato products, Van de Put also held positions at Novartis AG, Groupe Danone, Coca-Cola and Mars. During his time at McCain, he grew net sales 50%.
This global experience will be key to Van de Put's new position, as Mondelez relies on foreign markets for the majority of its sales.