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Kellogg has hired Steven A. Cahillane as CEO, succeeding current Chief Executive John Bryant, the Special K owner announced Thursday.
Cahillane, who will start on Monday, will also assume the role of chairman on March 15.
The move comes as Kellogg and its Big Food industry peers struggle with slowing sales and squeezed margins. The looming presence of Kraft Heinz-owner 3G Capital, known to be aggressive in its cost-cutting and acquisitions, has kept every food CEO on alert.
The industry pressure has coincided with executive turnover: Hormel, Mondelez and Hershey are among the many big food companies with CEOs who have departed or announced plans to do so.
For Bryant, who had been in the CEO seat for seven years and at the company for 20, the time was right to step down.
"The tremendous change is what has made the job exhilarating and exciting … I have been doing this for some time now, and it was just time for me personally," he said in an interview.
Cahillane joins Kellogg amid its own transformation as sales of its core cereal business drop. Its recent move from direct-to-store delivery to a warehouse system was aimed at cutting costs and adapting to e-commerce distribution models. It has also put money toward investing in companies in emerging markets and growing its natural products and snack business.
Cahillane's previous work at Nature's Bounty, a health company with a strong e-commerce platform, should help Kellogg in these efforts, which could include more acquisitions, Bryant said.
As for larger, transformative moves such as the $2.7 billion acquisition of Pringles that Bryant oversaw in 2012, options might be limited.
"There's just not a lot of very large acquisitions available, there's not much to buy," Bryant said. "I wish I could find another Pringles."