Kite Hill still searching for CEO

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Kite Hill still searching for the right permanent CEO

Related tags Cheese

Almondmilk-fueled brand Kite Hill is still looking for a replacement for CEO Matthew Sade, who departed in April after nearly four years at the helm to cofound kids’ food start-up Freeli Foods.

Founded by vegan chef Tal Ronnen, cheesemaker Monte Casino and Stanford biochemist Dr Pat Brown, brand owner Lyrical Foods makes almond milk from nuts and water, and then cultures it using proprietary cultures and enzymes to separate it out into solids and liquids, just as traditional cheese makers do.

Its products (almond milk cheeses, chilled ravioli, and yogurts) are now in several thousand stores from Whole Foods and Sprouts to Kroger and Safeway/Albertsons.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after the San Francisco-based company was attacked​ by the National Milk Producers Federation over its use of the dairy-derived term ‘yogurt’ on the label of plant-based products, Kite Hill VP marketing Jenny Berrien said John Haugen – general manager at one of Kite Hill’s key investors Gen Mills 301 INC – was still serving as interim CEO for the time being until a suitable candidate was identified.

She explained: “We have an active permanent CEO search in progress, but we have a new head of operations and a new head of sales that started in the past year, so we’ve been filling out our functional leadership and our broader exec team.”

Yogurt drinks and kids' yogurt tubes to return to shelves in the summer  

Asked about recent product launches – Greek-style almondmilk yogurt, probiotic almondmilk yogurt drinks, and kids’ almondmilk yogurt tubes - Berrien said that the Greek-style product was performing well, but that the drinks and the kids’ tubes had been temporarily pulled from the market while the company ironed out operational issues, and would be re-introduced in July.

She added: “We launched 14 new SKUs at the same time that we were expanding capacity and upgrading our operational systems for our core yogurt and cream cheese lines to meet growing demand, and we were experiencing some outages in the market, so we decided to focus all of our energy around execution and fulfilling demand for our core items before bringing the tubes and drinks back in mid-summer 2018. They were actually doing very well, but we had to focus.”

kite hill new products fall 2017
Kite Hill launched three new product ranges in the fall of 2017

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