Kraft Heinz appoints former marketer as CEO

Experienced FMCG leader and former marketer, Carlos Abrams-Rivera will take over as CEO of Kraft Heinz in January.

Kraft Heinz has appointed a former marketer to take over as CEO at the beginning of next year.

Carlos Abrams-Rivera is currently North America president at the company, which owns the Heinz brand. He is a former marketer whose past roles include a senior vice-president of marketing at Mondelez.

Abrams-Riviera joined Kraft Heinz in 2020, just one month before the onset of the pandemic, and is credited with “consistently delivering strong results” since he joined the business. He has spent the vast majority of his career at large FMCG businesses.

Before Kraft Heinz, he was president of the snacks division at Campbell’s, a company he joined in 2015. Before this, he was Latin America president of gum and candy at Cadbury owner Mondelez, a business he first joined in 2011 as a marketing and strategy senior vice-president.

Before Mondelez, he worked at what was then known as Kraft Foods Group (before a 2015 merger with the H.J. Heinz Company). Abrams-Rivera started his FMCG career as a senior brand manager at the company. He also holds an MBA in marketing and strategy.

Heinz on building an ‘iconic’ brand ‘beyond ketchup’

Outgoing CEO Miguel Patricio has praised Abrams-Rivera’s “strategic and innovative mindset” and says this will set him up well for the role. That role will include guiding Kraft Heinz through the next stage of its transformation.

That transformation looks to put the company at the forefront of “the future of food” and drive growth. To achieve this, it’s looking to “renovate” its brands. The company has said it wants to take the Heinz brand “beyond ketchup” and allow it to become a “food icon”.

Patricio, who took on the role in 2019, is credited with leading a “turnaround” for the business through his “deep understanding of marketing and consumers”.

In the company’s most recent results, Patricio had expressed his “pride” for his company’s brands and their resilience through inflation. He said the company was taking a “disciplined” approach to price which was allowing it to step up investment behind those brands.

The company set off a 7% volume decline in its second quarter with price increases of 11%. Its adjusted gross profit margin rose by 180 basis points to 33.3%

While Abrams-Riviera will not take over the helm of the company as CEO until January, he is immediately taking on the position of president of Kraft Heinz. He will carry out this role alongside his current North American president role.

Patricio will become non-executive chair of the board. He is another former marketer, and was CMO of AB InBev before taking on the leadership of Kraft Heinz.