CHICAGO (Reuters) – Smithfield Foods on Thursday unveiled a management shock as the world’s largest pork processor and its new CEO deal with the knock-on effects of a drop in restaurant meat consumption and infections from coronavirus among US workers.
The pandemic has reduced the demand for meat in restaurants, canteens and other food and beverage outlets, causing an economic shock to Smithfield and its rivals. Thousands of meat packing workers have been infected with the new coronavirus, including at Smithfield factories, and meat companies have faced criticism for not doing more to protect their employees.
Smithfield CEO Dennis Organ, who was previously the company’s chief operating officer, was expected to take over in early 2021, but the change was pushed through to the end of November.
The quake announced Thursday by the Smithfield, Virginia-based company includes the resignation of its chief commodity hedging officer, two packaged meat division executives and a senior advisor to the CEO after decades at the company.
The company, owned by Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd, said Organ has promoted some executives to new positions, including Russ Dokken as chief sales officer. from Executive Vice President of US Packaged Meat.
Scott Saunders becomes chief supply chain officer after serving as the company’s executive vice president of US supply chain and president of fresh pork.
Joe Weber was promoted to chief commodity hedging officer from executive vice president of growth and emerging business.
“This team will drive our business forward and make operational excellence our standard,” Organ said in a statement.
Smithfield announced the retirement of Dhamu Thamodaran, who was chief commodity hedging officer, executive vice president and chief strategy officer.
John Pauley, chief commercial officer of packaged meat, is also retired; Bill Michels, senior vice president of packaged meat operations; and Michael Cole, senior consultant to the CEO and corporate secretary, according to Smithfield.
The company said in November that Organ, who replaced former CEO Kenneth Sullivan, had “moved quickly to install a new leadership team.”
Last year Smithfield said it wanted to achieve record profits before the pandemic and to spend more than $ 600 million on employee health and safety measures.
Reporting by Mark Weinraub and Tom Polansek; Editing by Paul Simao