Kodiak picks Campbell Soup executive for CEO post

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Dive Brief:

  • High-protein, whole-grain food company Kodiak appointed CPG veteran Valerie Oswalt as its CEO, the company said in a statement. 
  • Oswalt, who joins Kodiak from Campbell Soup this week, succeeds Co-founder and CEO Joel Clark. Clark, as well as Co-founder and President Cameron Smith will transition into roles on Kodiak’s board.
  • Her appointment marks the latest development at Kodiak during the last few years as the fast-growing company has moved into additional product categories and sold itself to a private equity firm

Dive Insight:

Kodiak traces its roots to the early 1980s when a family pancake recipe was packaged in brown paper lunch sacks and sold to people in Salt Lake City from the back of a red wagon.

Today, Kodiak has significantly expanded its product offerings by moving into frozen waffles, oatmeal, baking mixes and a variety of snack products. Kodiak has thrived during the pandemic because its offerings use healthy ingredients such as whole grains and are loaded with protein. It also has benefited from broader growth throughout the food industry as consumers spend more time cooking and eating at home.

During the last year, Kodiak has increased revenue by more than 30%, according to the company. It also gained 13 percentage points of market share in its core categories in the past three years while posting a compound annual growth revenue topping 60% for the past 12 years. 

Its rapid growth caught the attention of private equity firm L Catterton, which purchased a majority stake in Kodiak for an undisclosed amount in 2021.

“Valerie’s people-first leadership style and deep industry experience uniquely position her to lead Kodiak into its next phase of growth,” said Clark. “I’m thrilled to pass the baton to someone our team unanimously felt was the right person for the job.”

Oswalt is no stranger to snacking or helping a company grow and navigate the rapidly evolving food category through her more than decade of experience.

At Campbell Soup, she was president of its snacks segment, a $4 billion portfolio including brands such as Goldfish, Milano, Pepperidge Farm and Snyder’s of Hanover. Before that, she served as CEO of Century Snacks, a privately held trail mix and nut products company, giving her valuable experience running a company. Oswalt also has amassed food industry insight through executive positions at Kraft Foods and Mondelēz International, where she was president of its North American confections business. 

Kodiak can tap into Oswalt’s snacking and CPG experience as it continues to aggressively move beyond its breakfast roots to become a meaningful player in snacking. The expansion allows it to further its better-for-you mantra while benefiting from growing consumer demand for snacks throughout the day.

Her appointment further deepens Kodiak’s executive ranks, which included the hiring of Cory Bayers from the clothing company Patagonia as its chief marketing officer and the appointment of actor/producer Zac Efron to its board and the role of chief brand officer in the last two years.  

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About the Author

Jervie David Montejar
A food lover who wants to try every delicious dishes around him and spread the news to everyone to try it as well. Finding the latest trends about food and restaurants around Cebu and the rest of the world :) "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer
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