Kraft Heinz has chosen Carlos Abrams-Rivera, the current North American president of the company, as its new chief executive officer, set to take over on 1 January 2024.

Challenges under current leadership

Miguel Patricio, who has been at the helm of Kraft Heinz since 2019, will step down as CEO but will continue to contribute as the board’s chair.

Patricio was hired as chief executive in 2019, after having spent 20 years at brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. His appointment came after the Kraft cheese maker raised eyebrows across the food industry with a multi-faceted announcement in 2019, that included an SEC probe into the company’s procurement, fourth-quarter profits that missed expectations, an outlook for 2019 that also disappointed Wall Street and a US$15bn write-down on certain assets.

Patricio’s strategies aimed to rejuvenate notable brands such as Oscar Mayer and Maxwell House, targeting younger consumers and expanding the away-from-home business segment by introducing innovative products such as customisable sauce dispensers for restaurants.

Despite these efforts, a decline in product demand emerged in recent months, attributed to the company’s higher pricing strategy and intensified competitive promotional activities.

Abrams-Rivera’s background and promising outlook

Carlos Abrams-Rivera’s promotion from North American president to CEO marks a significant moment in his career, as he initially started in the food industry with Kraft, managing brands such as California Pizza Kitchen and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

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He further honed his expertise by leading Mondelez’s Latin American gum and candy division and Campbell Soup‘s snack business.

Upon rejoining Kraft Heinz as the head of its US zone in February 2020, just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Abrams-Rivera played a pivotal role in revitalising demand for the company’s products.

Miguel Patricio commended his contributions, highlighting his strong performance in both North American retail and Away From Home businesses. Patricio expressed confidence that Abrams-Rivera’s experience in diverse markets aligns well with the company’s growth aspirations.

In anticipation of his transition to CEO on 1 January, Abrams-Rivera will first assume the role of president of Kraft Heinz, encompassing additional responsibilities alongside his existing position.

Meanwhile, Patricio’s continuation as board chair post-CEO shift underlines his ongoing commitment to the company’s trajectory.