Jeffrey L. Harmening has been named CEO of General Mills, effective June 1.
Also elected to the Minneapolis-based company’s board of directors, Harmening, 50, is a 23-year veteran of the company and has been president and COO since July 1, 2016.
Harmening succeeds Ken Powell, who has been chairman and CEO since 2007. Powell will continue as chairman for a transition period until his retirement, which is expected within the next year.
"General Mills has a long tradition of delivering top-tier returns that our shareholders have counted on for generations," Powell said. "We are focused on growth and feel strongly that Jeff is the right leader for the next leg of our journey."
During Harmening's leadership of its U.S. retail business, the company greatly expanded its position in the natural and organic segment, including the acquisition of Annie's and Epic Provisions. While president of the company's U.S. cereal business, Harmening led a realignment of the portfolio that resulted in multiple years of growth in sales, market share and profitability. As CEO of Cereal Partners Worldwide, the Switzerland-based joint venture with Nestlé that markets cereal in 130 countries, Harmening oversaw a reorganization of the company that positioned the business to deliver long-term profitable growth.
"I am honored to take the helm of General Mills at such an important point in its history," Harmening said. "Building on the legacy of those that have led this great company before me is an exciting challenge, and one I do not take on alone. General Mills' employees are singularly focused on driving growth and returns for the long term, and it will be a privilege to help them reach that goal."
Harmening joined General Mills in 1994 and has held a variety of roles including SVP and CEO of CPW. Harmening has been EVP and COO for U.S. Retail, and VP and SVP of the Big G cereal division, as well as taking on a variety of marketing roles in Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Foodservice and Big G new enterprises.
"A key responsibility of a board is leading a thoughtful, robust succession-planning process," said R. Kerry Clark, independent lead director of the General Mills board. "The board unanimously cast its vote for Jeff as the best candidate to lead this venerable 150-year-old company. Jeff knows how to build talented teams and has extensive experience both in the U.S. and globally. He is not afraid to challenge the status quo, and he is a tenacious and resilient leader."
Of Powell, Clark remarked, "Under Ken's leadership as CEO, the company made significant strides to expand globally, developed a culture of holistic margin management, and redoubled its focus on meeting the ever-changing needs of consumers. These achievements have resulted in outstanding value creation for General Mills shareholders, including 11 percent compound annual total shareholder returns."
With sales approaching $17 billion, General Mills markets products under numerous well-known brands, including Cheerios, Annie's, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry and Yoki.