Friedman is no stranger to the CPG space, having spent more than 25 years in the food and beverage sector. He was at Post for the prior four years, the last 13 months as COO. Before that, Friedman worked at Kraft Heinz and its predecessor for more than two decades, overseeing brands like Philadelphia, Kool-Aid and Lunchables.
Utz, a manufacturer of chips, cheese balls, pretzels and other snacks, said Friedman has experience growing businesses and creating value.
“Howard brings extensive experience increasing market share and unlocking growth potential, with a focus on building innovative brands and strategic business development,” Lissette said in a statement. “The Board and I are confident that he will help lead Utz to tremendous success as we grow our presence across geographies, salty snack sub-categories, and channels.”
Lissette, who joined the company in 1995 and took over as CEO in 2013, has grown Utz from a regional snack food manufacturer to the third-largest branded salty snack platform in the country. During his tenure as CEO, sales nearly tripled to more than $1.3 billion, Utz said, and he oversaw the company’s public listing in 2020. He also has completed six acquisitions since Utz went public.
Lissette’s departure as CEO is the latest in a series of executive changes recently in the food space.
Two egg producers, Cal-Maine and Pete & Gerry’s Organics, named new executives to their top posts. Tom Flocco, Pete & Gerry’s new CEO, was previously president and COO of Utz. Sherman Miller, COO of Cal-Maine, was elevated to the top position at his company.
Last week, Alan Jope, Unilever’s CEO, announced he will retire at the end of 2023, after five years in the role. And Mars CEO Grant Reid, who worked for the candy, gum and pet food company for 34 years and served as CEO for eight, retired in September. Poul Weihrauch, global president of Mars Petcare, succeeded him.