There's a new CEO at Kraft Foods again. Just 21⁄2 years after Roger Deromedi was given full leadership control of the nation's largest food company, he has been replaced by Irene Rosenfeld, a former Kraft executive who most recently served as CEO of the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo Inc. Rosenfeld, 53, who assumed her new job immediately, left Kraft around the same time that the company dissolved a co-executive arrangement that involved Deromedi and Betsy Holden. Analysts say she will need to roll out more innovative products and do it quickly.
Kraft's launch of the South Beach Diet brand of frozen foods was the food industry's largest product introduction in 2005, when it recorded more than $170 million in sales, but some speculate that did not go over as well as expected and Deromedi is taking the fall. The Chicago Tribune says he may be remembered for having shrunk and focused the company, but that he may have fallen short in terms of new product launches. He oversaw the sales of Milk-Bone dog biscuits and Altoids mints for high prices. But Deromedi failed to put that cash to work buying new businesses. In June he visited Paris, and the French press suggested that a bid for Groupe Danone might be in the works.