Why leading industry players made The Daily Meal's 50 most powerful people in food in America list
- The Daily Meal released its list of America's 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2016. While the list spans restuarants, food media, retailers, and other parties like Instagram and Uber, several of the chosen 50 are figureheads from major manufacturers in food and beverage, ingredients, foodservice, and biotechnology.
- The top 15 on the list include Hugh Grant of Monsanto Co. (No. 3), Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo (No. 7), Bill Delaney of Sysco (No. 10), David MacLennan of Cargill (No. 11), George Zoghbi of Kraft Foods, now Kraft Heinz (No. 13), and Donnie Smith of Tyson Foods (No. 15).
- The list also includes leaders of major food agencies and associations, such as Tom Vilsack of USDA (No. 1), Michael Taylor of the FDA (No. 4), Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association (No. 12), and Pamela Bailey of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (No. 14),
The list focused on people in the food industry that had the greatest reach and potential for impact in addition to accomplishments in the past and possibilities for the future. These most powerful people, particularly those in the top 15, are not just from companies at the top of their industries but who are tasked with some of the most pressing challenges the industry faces today.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is battling for the survival of a category that has reported sales declines for more than a decade straight. The beverage industry has zeroed in on how she aims to turn soda around and/or how to strategically diversify to keep the company going should soda not find a solution quickly enough. Still, Nooyi has kept innovation at the forefront of all that PepsiCo does, in both beverage products and its Frito-Lay snack business.
Notably missing, however, is Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, whose soda company actually trumps PepsiCo in sales, as does its trademark cola. What could have harmed Kent's chances this year was the debacle over the Global Energy Balance Network. The corresponding New York Times report said Coca-Cola had provided funding for this research nonprofit, which concluded that exercise was more important than diet in the fight against obesity. This incited a strong response from public health advocates.
The key for landing a spot on lists like this is about positioning a company to face its challenges head on with strategic investments and well-developed innovations in place.
- The Daily Meal America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2016