Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondelez International has turned to a French fry food executive to create some sales sizzle as Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and ceo of the confectionery and snack multinational, opts for retirement.
Dirk Van de Put will leave McCain Foods after six years as ceo to join Mondelez. During his tenure, he grew net sales by more than 50 percent, generating more than 75 percent of that growth organically, with EBITDA growing double digits each of the last six years.
In total, Van de Put brings nearly 30 years of experience in the food and consumer package industry to Mondelez, having held executive positions with Novartis, Groupe Danone, The Coca-Cola Co. and Mars, Inc.
Rosenfeld, who will step down as ceo in November, will continue as chairman of the board until March 31, 2018, at which point she will retire and Van de Put will assume the role of chairman and ceo. 
"I am very proud of what our 90,000 colleagues at Mondelēz International have accomplished," Rosenfeld said. "Throughout my tenure as ceo, the world and our industry have undergone a period of unprecedented change. During that time, we anticipated emerging challenges, adapted accordingly and created significant value for our shareholders. The outlook is bright for this great company — one of the few that has consistently delivered on both the top and bottom lines, while making critical investments for future growth."

Rosenfeld has led Mondelez and its predecessor, Kraft Foods Inc., for 11 years. She oversaw the Kraft Foods’ 2010 purchase of Cadbury for $19 billion. The company split into Mondelez International and Kraft Foods Group, Inc., which later merged with H.J. Heinz Co.

Rosenfeld also steered a cost-cutting effort that included closing or selling more than three dozen factories over the last four years, boosting the company’s adjusted operating margin to 15.3 percent in 2016 from 13 percent in 2013.

Rosenfeld added that she and the board are confident that van de Put, “…is the right leader to take us forward. He is a seasoned global ceo, having lived and worked on three different continents, with deep experience and expertise in all critical business and commercial operations in both emerging and developed markets. Throughout his career, Dirk has had a proven track record of driving top-line and category growth, while at the same time improving cost structures and profitability. And he has achieved these results with a values-based leadership style and steadfast focus on people."
Van de Put graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Gent in Belgium and a post-graduate in marketing and management from the University of Antwerp. He is fluent in five languages, including English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
"On behalf of the entire Mondelēz International Board, we want to welcome Dirk and are excited to begin working with him to lead the company through its next chapter of growth," said Mark Ketchum, Mondelez’ lead independent director. "Our thorough, multi-year succession process has identified Dirk as the right leader with a distinct combination of skills and industry experience necessary to succeed as our next ceo. Our process was global in nature and thoroughly considered numerous highly talented internal and external candidates before making our final decision."
In April the Wall Street Journal reported the company has begun the process to replace Rosenfeld. The newspaper said Mondelez has retained Heidrick & Struggles International, an executive search firm. Nearly two weeks later, the company announced Roberto Marques, executive v.p. and president, North America, had left his post.
Pinar Hosafci, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, said the Rosenfeld's departure comes Mondelez' failed bid for Hershey in 2016 and stagnant organic sales growth as consumers continue to seek out healthier, less processed products. Hosafci estimated Mondelez would pursue further cost cutting efforts under Van de Put's leadership.
"Most probably, Mondelez will follow the big flurry of other FMCG giants such as Nestle and Unilever who are undergoing a massive cost reduction period, especially in the areas of personal cuts and operational management, perhaps even R&D and advertisement, one area that Rosenfeld was completely against at," Hosafci said.