- Minsok Pak is Mondelez International's new executive vice president and chief strategy and transformation officer, and will be responsible for M&A and digital transformation initiatives, according to a press release. Part of his role is leading SnackFutures, the company’s innovation and venture hub.
- Pak previously served as the executive vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer at Target, where he led the company’s growth development strategy. Prior to that, he was the senior vice president of channel development at the Lego Group.
- “Minsok brings extensive international experience developing and implementing enterprise strategies and growth initiatives in the consumer and retail sectors,” CEO Dirk Van de Put said in the press release. “His track record of accelerating growth and driving transformation, together with his detailed understanding of the global consumer landscape, will be an asset to Mondelez International as we continue to lead the future of snacking."
Pak may be Mondelez’s ticket to getting the legacy company to think outside of the box. As the new head of digital transformation and M&A, Pak will have the ability to draw on his experience from other international consumer goods companies to infuse Mondelez’s forward-looking strategy with technological integrations.
While at Target, Pak was a part of the company’s acquisition of the same-day delivery platform Shipt. He also worked on the company's increasing its investment in mattress startup Casper and the launch of its incubator geared toward young business founders. Pak was a keynote speaker at the 2019 Target Incubator Conference associated with the accelerator’s recruitment.
The laundry list of changes that followed Pak at Target might be a boon for Mondelez if he replicates his approach. The maker of Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies has been working to reinvent itself as a global snacking powerhouse amid changing ideas about what constitutes a meal. Three square meals a day is giving way to all-day grazing which has created a lucrative category; the snacking business grew $3.4 billion globally in 2017, according to Nielsen.
To take advantage of this growth, Mondelez purchased Tate's Bake Shop, a brand best known for its premium bagged chocolate chip cookies, for around $500 million a year ago. In 2015, the company gobbled up Enjoy Life Foods, an allergen-free snack maker that's part of the $12 billion "free-from" product category. The company recently branched into refrigerated better-for-you protein snacks with its purchase of a majority stake Perfect Snacks.
Pak’s experience in M&A, especially in an international context, will be beneficial to Mondelez as it looks to appeal to a wide variety of consumers with different snacking opportunities. Pak has likely formed global networks from his time working in London with Lego, which he can leverage as he looks for deals to add more flavor to Mondelez’s portfolio and expand the company’s reach.
In addition to a focus on M&A, Mondelez has also started an innovation hub for new snacking brands called SnackFutures. Since its formation last fall, SnackFutures has partnered with Chicago's The Hatchery, invested in a minority stake in prebiotic functional foods startup Uplift Food and backed clean label brand Hu. This summer, the incubator began testing out two new snack lines: Dirt Kitchen, which makes fruit and vegetable snacks from excess produce and CaPao, which uses the parts of cacao fruit that might otherwise be wasted to make snacks and a ready-to-drink beverage.
With Pak helming the incubator, a lot more is likely to happen. While he has not shared a definitive strategy, likely he is going to be looking toward innovative brands in which Mondelez can take a minority stake, and perhaps eventually acquire.
There is also opportunity for Pak to look at products that are integrating technology in novel ways. Sustainable production methodologies using fewer resources may resonate with consumers and be cost-effective for the company. He may also prioritize foods that use technology to create functional benefits like complete nutrition on the go, or that employ artificial intelligence to optimize flavor selection and generate recipes based on target consumer demographics.
Snacking companies are facing a market that is increasingly competitive. To get ahead and stay there, large conglomerates will need innovative approaches on the shelf that can catch consumer attention. In today’s market, that means more than just flavor. It includes providing nutritional profiles that cater to a variety of needs, integrating technology that allows consumers to access information about companies’ supply chains and providing convenient options that consumers can take advantage of on-the-go.