Dairy alternative company Daiya Foods has announced that Hajime Fujita has been appointed to the role of chief executive officer.
Daiya’s new CEO Hajime Fujita
Fujita will replace Michael Watt, who had been in the role since 2019.
Fujita is a former director at Daiya and will lead all global operations throughout North America and the brand’s continued international expansion.
He brings over 17 years of global experience in business and financial planning throughout the US and the Asia-Pacific region. Fujita joins from Daiya’s parent company, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, where he was VP of business planning.
Daiya has been producing plant-based dairy alternatives since 2008, well-known for its cheese formats including blocks, shreds, slices, sticks, cream cheese style spreads and sauces. It has since expanded into other ‘cheese-forward’ foods like pizza, mac and cheese and frozen cheesecake.
Having played a key role in Otsuka’s acquisition of Daiya in 2017, Fujita joined Daiya himself and served as director of financial planning and analysis from 2018 to 2021. Following this, he assumed a seat on Daiya’s board as part of the VP role at Otsuka.
His achievements at Daiya include playing a lead role in the development of the company’s manufacturing facility and office in Burnaby, British Columbia, said to be the largest stand-alone plant-based food facility in North America.
Commenting on his new role, Fujita said: “There is enormous potential in the Daiya brand to push the highly competitive plant-based category to new heights, particularly through product innovation and bold marketing”.
He added: “I’m thrilled to be rejoining Daiya at such a dynamic period in the wider cultural conversation around plant-based eating and I look forward to working with our fantastic team in writing the next chapter of our amazing brand story”.
Alongside Fujita’s appointment, the Daiya board of directors made two further changes to the leadership team. Chief marketing officer, Melanie Domer, will assume a new role as chief commercial officer, overseeing marketing and sales. John Kelly, VP of consumer marketing assumes the role of chief marketing officer.
Domer commented: “By bringing sales and marketing together, Daiya will be even better positioned to reach and engage with consumers all along the shopper journey, bringing more people to plant-based eating, and driving growth of our categories”.
Daiya’s foods are available in more than 25,000 grocery stores in the US and Canada, as well as through e-commerce partnerships. Its products can be found internationally in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
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