Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio.
Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees will step down from his role this July after six years in charge, to be replaced by erstwhile Anheuser-Busch executive Miguel Patricio.
Patricio, a Portuguese national, has a career spanning two decades at Anheuser-Busch including most recently as global chief marketing officer between 2012 and 2018. Kraft Heinz said that, in this role, he “helped develop and implement a strategic playbook for global brands Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois”.
He has also served as AB InBev’s president of North America and president of Asia-Pacific, in which he helped grow the company’s share of sales accounted for by emerging markets.
His broader experience in consumer packaged goods – including at Philip Morris, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson – represents an attractive proposition to a company struggling both for volumes and revenue growth.
Patricio said: “Kraft Heinz is an incredible company with iconic brands that are loved around the world. It will be a privilege and an honour to lead such a talented group of employees as we focus on the consumer to capitalise on the growth opportunities that exist in the rapidly evolving food industry.”
Kraft Heinz chairman Alex Behring said: “Miguel is a proven business leader with a distinguished track record of building iconic consumer brands around the globe, driving top-line revenue growth through a focus on consumer-first marketing, innovation, and people development.”
“I would like to thank Bernardo personally, and on behalf of the board, for his many contributions to Kraft Heinz over the last six years. He helped transform the food industry by leading the acquisition of Heinz in 2013 and the merger of Kraft and Heinz in 2015. Under Bernardo’s tenure, Kraft Heinz achieved industry-leading margins and sales performance in line with its US peers, developed an organisation with best-in-industry quality standards, and built in-house capabilities for category management, including revenue and assortment management. We appreciate his contributions.”
‘A little bit dusty’
“It has been an honour to serve as CEO of Kraft Heinz and to see it through its transformation over the last six years,” Hees elaborated. “I have confidence that Miguel and the team will take Kraft Heinz to new heights.”
In the last year of his leadership, Kraft Heinz has faced a number of different challenges as it continues to grapple with changing consumer demands: for the fourth quarter of the last financial year, it reported a loss of $12.61 billion and was forced to admit that the poor performance would mean “a step backwards” for the full year.
The company has responded to changing purchasing behaviour by joining the large cohort of multinationals with in-house incubator programmes, as well asspending $200 million on the premium condiment and snack bar brand Primal Kitchen.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Miguel Patricio noted that some of the company’s cost-cutting measures had come at the expense of its brands. He claimed that returning some of Kraft Heinz’s best-known brands to their former glory would require work: “some are a little bit dusty and we have to rejuvenate them,” he said.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019