Simon – whose appointment was announced as Reuters reported that Conagra had approached Pinnacle Foods as a takeover target – will report to chief financial officer Dave Marberger. She succeeds Gerrit Schutte, who is retiring, but will stay on until October 2017 to assist with the transition.
Pinnacle Foods was formerly on the radar of Hillshire Brands (which Conagra Brands CEO Sean Connolly previously led), but was passed over as Hillshire was snapped up by Tyson Foods in 2014.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Reuters claimed that Conagra's approach to Pinnacle “took place in the last few weeks,” and that there is “no certainty that Pinnacle Foods will choose to engage, or that Conagra will pursue a potential deal further.”
Chicago, IL-based Conagra Brands – which recently announced plans to sell its Wesson cooking oils brand to J M Smucker for $285m - has been steadily re-engineering its portfolioafter selling its private label operation (formerly Ralcorp) last year to focus on branded foods. Key brands in its portfolio include Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Orville Redenbacher's, Pam, and Reddi Wip.
Parsippany, NJ-based Pinnacle, has also been re-shaping its portfolio in recent years to boost its presence in on-trend categories such as gluten-free and plant-based proteins. Brands in its portfolio include Birds Eye, Hungry-Man, Aunt Jemima and EVOL (frozen foods), Smart Balance (spreads), Duncan Hines (baking), Wish-Bone (dressings), Vlasic (pickles), Udi’s and Glutino (gluten-free), Earth Balance (spreads, nut butters), gardein (plant-based protein), and Mrs Butterworth's (syrups).
Conagra Brands told FoodNavigator-USA that it does "not comment on rumors or speculation."