News Briefs


Utz Brands Brings on Marketing Pro


Snack maker Utz Brands, Inc. has named Jennifer Bentz EVP of insights, innovation and marketing services. In this role, she will oversee those key functions and enhance the company’s e-commerce marketing capabilities.

She brings more than 30 years of marketing experience, including digital marketing, to her latest position. Most recently, Bentz was EVP of applied technology and insights at CLIF Bar & Co., where she created a commercial analytics program using first-party data and deployed marketing strategies based on tailored consumer insights. Bentz also served as chief client officer at Mintel and held senior marketing jobs at Tyson Foods and Kraft Foods. She earned a B.S. degree in marketing from Indiana University.

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Bentz will report to CEO Howard Friedman. “I believe that Jen's influential leadership, strategic agility, and drive for results make her an excellent fit for Utz. Her expertise in insights, innovation, and marketing services will be instrumental in propelling our growth and enhancing our understanding of consumers, and it’s a privilege to have Jen join our team,” he said.

In other news, Utz announced that its Zapp’s Sinfully Seasoned Voodoo Pretzel Stix won best pretzel product in People magazine’s food awards for 2023. The company continues to roll out other innovative products, such as its Mike’s Hot Honey potato chip (pictured) launched in May.


Kraft Heinz Debuts New Canadian Headquarters

Kraft Heinz Co Canada HQ Toronto Teaser

The Kraft Heinz Co., Canada’s largest food and beverage company, has moved its Canadian headquarters to the historic Queen’s Quay Terminal in downtown Toronto, replacing the company’s longtime North York, Ontario, location. The new site accommodates more than 350 employees.

[Read More: “Kraft Heinz Reveals New Chief Procurement Officer for North America”]

Features of the new headquarters include:

• An on-site state-of-the-art culinary center of excellence to develop and test new products, recipes and social content while building a venue to collaborate with retail and foodservice customers and colleagues worldwide.
• More than 600 work, meeting, breakout and collaboration spaces with technology optimized for hybrid meetings.
• The Crunchy and Smoothy Café, named after Canada’s beloved Kraft Peanut Butter Bears, which includes a coffee bar and micro-market space featuring Kraft Heinz products and grab-and-go items.
• Murals and artwork throughout the office created by local artists and celebrating food, diversity and community

Teams based at the Toronto headquarters location include the Canada marketing, sales and away-from-home functions, as well as team members from the North America digital, people and performance, finance, communications, growth, IT, and operations functions.

Chicago-based Kraft Heinz has been a member of the Canadian business community for more than 100 years.


Island Pacific Supermarket Names Chief Marketing Officer

Island Pacific Supermarket Christine Peebles Teaser

Filipino-American grocery chain Island Pacific Supermarket has appointed Christine Peebles its new chief marketing officer. Peebles brings to her latest role an extensive background in strategic brand building and the consumer packaged goods industry.

She previously worked for such CPG businesses as The Hershey Co., PepsiCo, Nestlé and Avery Products, where her achievements ranged from driving revenue and profit growth to developing and executing comprehensive brand strategies. She also implemented systems and processes to optimize operations and ensure the seamless execution of marketing initiatives.

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Peebles was born in the United States, but lived in the Philippines from the time she was an infant until the age of 4. She went on to earn an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Christine Peebles to the Island Pacific Supermarket family as our chief marketing officer,” said Nino Jeff Lim, the company’s founder. “Her exceptional background in strategic brand building, proven track record in the CPG industry, and passion for our mission make her the ideal leader to propel our marketing efforts forward. We are confident that under her leadership, we will achieve unparalleled growth and continue to be the preferred destination for Filipino-American grocery shopping.”

City of Industry, Calif.-based Island Pacific Supermarket offers a wide selection of authentic Filipino food products and a diverse range of groceries to the Filipino-American community and beyond at 18 locations across California and Nevada.


FMI Names 2 Directors in Education Department

FMI Education Kara Adams Rebecca Daniels Teaser

FMI – The Food Industry Association has named Kara Adams (left in photo) and Rebecca Daniels directors in the trade organization’s education department. In their new roles, they will each focus on expanding e-learning offerings to better meet member needs via new and existing formats, develop the program for the 2024 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, and oversee additional live meetings.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kara Adams and recognize Rebecca Daniels’ remarkable growth within FMI,” said Carol Abel, VP of education at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Their appointments mark an exciting chapter in our journey toward expanding FMI’s education offerings. With Adams’ exceptional expertise in e-learning and community building and Daniels’ invaluable experience within our organization, we are confident in their ability to lead the education department to new horizons.”

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Adams brings 10-plus years of experience in the e-learning and community-building arenas at such organizations as the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Northwest Indiana, the Institute of Food Technologists, the Society of American Archivists, and Foundant Technologies. At FMI, she will further shape the association’s e-learning programs, with the aim of improving the overall learning experience and expanding educational opportunities and mediums.

Having joined FMI in 2019, Daniels steadily rose through the ranks, leveraging her 15-plus years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Her work led to increased attendance at FMI Midwinter and the Financial Executive and Internal Auditing Conference, and she had a hand in nearly every education event that FMI offers. In her latest position, Daniels will continue to bolster the association’s event portfolio and provide conference programming.

“Their combined expertise, industry insights, and dedication to delivering exceptional learning experiences will empower FMI to continue to provide exceptional experiences and professional advancement to our members,” added Abel.


Incoming Ahold Delhaize CFO Jolanda Poots-Bijl Appointed to Management Board

Ahold Delhaize Jolanda Poots-Bijl Teaser

Ahold Delhaize shareholders approved the appointment of Jolanda Poots-Bijl as a member of the company’s management board during an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders in Zaandam, Netherlands, on July 5. Poots-Bijl will join Ahold Delhaize in mid-August as EVP finance and a member of its executive committee. On Oct. 1, she will assume the role of CFO succeeding Natalie Knight, who joined the company in 2020.

Poots-Bijl (pictured) joins Ahold Delhaize from offshore construction company Van Oord, where she has been CFO since 2016. During the shareholders meeting, she said, “I will dedicate my 20 years of CFO experience in various industries, my passion, time and high level of energy to the company and its strategy, with a keen eye on people, sustainability and innovation.” 

“We are looking forward to Jolanda starting,” noted Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller. “Her extensive experience as a finance leader and passion for digital transformation and sustainability will be of important value to our company.”

Knight will return to the United States with her family after more than 25 years in Europe. She has accepted a position with multinational automaker Stellantic at its Auburn Hills, Mich., office.

Last month, it was revealed that Rom Kosla, EVP, IT, and CIO at Ahold Delhaize USA, will leave the company to become CIO at Houston-based global edge-to-cloud company Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HBE) in July. 

Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century and its 10 Most Sustainable Grocers


Festival Foods, Upshop Aim to Optimize Fresh Ops

festival foods teaser

Festival Foods has formed a strategic partnership with Upshop, a provider of AI-driven software for store operations, with the aim of making Festival’s fresh perimeter operations more efficient.

Upshop’s Fresh software-as-a-service suite connects and digitizes workflows, streamlines ordering processes, and simplifies production operations. The platform leverages AI-driven forecasting and real-time inventory visibility for both raw and finished items, integrating such disparate workflows and data streams as pricing, ingredients, recipes, production plans and made-to-order tasks to improve operational efficiency and ensure a consistent, guided user experience for employees. The partnership comes as Festival Foods gears up for greater growth and requires systems that can rapidly scale.

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“At Festival Foods, we are committed to making decisions that further enhance the experience of our associates and our guests,” said Mark Skogen, CEO and president of De Pere, Wis.-based Festival Foods. “This partnership is about removing barriers to execution for our teams and simplifying the complexities of running a fresh department so they can focus on delivering a memorable guest experience.”

“We built our software with the goal of making it effortless for associates and stores to meet the needs of shoppers,” noted Shamus Hines, CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Upshop. “Moreover, we have assembled a team of experts who understand how to drive adoption in-store. This partnership with Festival Foods exemplifies our commitment to empowering retailers with the tools and support needed to succeed.”

Through this partnership, Festival Foods expects significant improvements in operational efficiency, associate engagement, inventory management and overall customer satisfaction.

Festival Foods employs more than 8,000 full- and part-time associates at 40 full-service supermarkets across the state of Wisconsin. The grocer is No. 94 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.