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General Mills leadership changes furthers push into pets, international segments

by Ohio Digital News

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Cereal giant General Mills announced a slew of leadership changes ahead of 2024 as it furthers its push into the pet food and international segments, which the company calls its “two largest growth areas.”

General Mills’ aggressive push into the pet food space comes as cereal, once its highest-performing category, continues to face a long-term decline.

Jeff Harmening, General Mills’ CEO, said in a statement the leadership changes come as the company is adapting to a changing CPG landscape.

“These moves enable us to best match our deep bench of senior talent to fast-growing and important consumer areas and occasions,” Harmening said. “I am confident this will help us advance our next chapter in our Accelerate enterprise strategy.”

Dana McNabb, chief strategy and growth officer, has been promoted to president of North America Retail, General Mills’ largest and most profitable segment, according to the company. The segment declined in its most recent quarter amid less shelf ability, Harmening said in a recent earnings call. General Mills reported volumes across its portfolio had declined in the quarter as well, with 5% drops in its North American retail, pets and international segments.

General Mills noted in its press release that its retail food segment remains its most profitable. The company last week announced new varieties of six of its most popular cereal products as it capitalizes on the growing desire for cereal as a snack food. The cereal giant remains the category leader, a spot it obtained after issues faced by main rival WK Kellogg Co in recent years.

The promotion of a company veteran like Jon Nudi to lead its pet food division comes as the company aims to boost its presence in the space. General Mills first ventured into the pet food category in 2018, when it acquired Blue Buffalo for a lofty $8 billion. Last month, the company purchased pet food supplement brand Fera Pets for an undisclosed amount, the first acquisition from its new growth equity fund targeting upstart businesses in trendy categories.

General Mills sees its pet food pivot as a long-term investment. In its most recent quarterly earnings call in September, CFO Kofi Bruce pointed to the $44 billion category’s growth is driven by a 1% to 1.5% pet population growth, which it believes will benefit premium-tier brands like Blue Buffalo.

Here’s a rundown of the General Mills executive changes: 

  • Jon Nudi will now serve as the group president for the company’s pet food and international segments. He previously helmed the company’s North American retail segment since 2016, where the company said he helped drive market share gains.
  • Ricardo Fernandez, who previously served as the president of the company’s U.S. breakfast foods unit, will work beside Nudi as the president of the international segment.
  • Dana McNabb will take the reigns from Nudi as group president for the company’s North American retail segment. General Mills touted her achievements in previous roles, driving it to become the leading company in the cereal category and increasing sales.
  • Bethany Quam will serve as the company’s president of U.S. breakfast foods under McNabb, after previously leading its pet segment to double-digit growth, General Mills said.
  • Current CFO Kofi Bruce will temporarily oversee General Mills’ strategy and growth segment as it looks for someone else to fill the role.

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