Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE: FLO), producer of Nature's OwnWonderTastykake, Dave's Killer Bread, and other bakery foods, has named Robert L. Benton, Jr., currently chief supply chain officer, to the newly created role of executive vice president of network optimization, effective immediately. Benton will focus solely on designing and executing capital projects that support the company's portfolio optimization effort. He will continue as an officer of the company, reporting to Ryals McMullian, Flowers Foods' president and chief executive officer.

The company has begun an external search process for a new chief supply chain officer. To ensure a smooth transition, Benton will maintain the position until a successor is named.

"As we embark on our portfolio optimization journey, we intend to invest in bakery automation and in our logistics network to create a more powerful and efficient enterprise," said McMullian. "We plan to reduce complexity and establish an optimized bakery footprint that can deliver consistently high-quality bakery foods at the lowest possible cost. I can think of no better person to oversee these efforts than Robert. Throughout his almost 40-year career with Flowers, Robert has demonstrated that he is one of the most knowledgeable and capable engineers in the industry, and I look forward to working closely with him to build the Flowers of tomorrow."

Benton joined the company in 1980, and during his tenure, his responsibilities have included manufacturing and distribution productivity and efficiency, capital projects, regulatory and quality assurance, and safety and environmental affairs. He has overseen the design and construction of 10 new bakeries, the redesign and installation of more than 50 major production lines and has played a vital role in the integration of numerous acquisitions.

Prior to being named chief supply chain officer in 2017, Benton served as senior vice president and chief manufacturing officer, senior vice president of manufacturing and operations support, vice president of manufacturing, and held local and regional manufacturing positions within the company. In addition, he has served in leadership roles with a number of industry groups, including the American Institute of Baking, the American Society of Baking, and Baking Equipment Manufacturers and Allied.