Kraft Heinz CEO steps down, replaced with head of North American business

Packaged foods giant Kraft Heinz said Carlos Abrams-Rivera, the company’s executive vice president and president of its North American business, will take over as chief executive Jan. 1.

Abrams-Rivera will succeed Miguel Patricio, who has been CEO since 2019. Abrams-Rivera, 56, will become president of the company effective immediately.

“The transition from Miguel to Carlos reflects the board’s thoughtful succession planning and we are confident that the company will continue to accelerate growth with Carlos assuming the role of CEO,” said Jack Pope, lead director of the Kraft Heinz board, in a statement. “He is an experienced leader with a long tenure in the food and beverage industry who has shown consistency and excellence in execution.”

Abrams-Rivera said in a statement that he was “humbled and honored” to be appointed CEO. Abrams-Rivera joined Kraft Heinz in 2020 from the Campbell Soup Co., where he was executive vice president of Campbell Snacks. He had previously worked in numerous roles for Chicago-based Mondelez, including a stint as president of Mondelez Mexico. Abrams-Rivera started his food career as a senior brand manager at Kraft Foods Group.

Patricio, 57, will become nonexecutive chair of the company’s board. He became CEO in 2019, as Kraft Heinz struggled to come back from declining sales and cost-cutting measures, including the layoff of more than 2,000 workers in 2015. He had previously spent two decades at Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The company announced further cost-cutting measures under Patricio’s leadership in 2020, when it said it would cut $2 billion in costs over five years with plans to put the savings toward marketing brands with high growth potential, such as Heinz ketchup and Oscar Mayer lunchables. Sales were buoyed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shoppers loaded up on shelf-stable foods to cook at home.

The company, which is co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, has three manufacturing facilities and three distribution centers in Illinois. Kraft Heinz said earlier this summer it has more than 3,300 employees in the state. Its downtown Chicago offices are in the Aon Center, and it also has a research and development center in Glenview. In July, the company announced plans to open a distribution center in DeKalb in 2025.

The company posted net sales of $6.7 billion during the second quarter, up 2.6% compared with the same period last year.