Egon Zehnder Recruits CEO for Blue Diamond Growers

December 16, 2022 – Leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder has assisted agricultural cooperative and global consumer packaged goods (CPG) leader Blue Diamond Growers in the recruitment of Kai Bockmann as its new president and chief executive officer. The board selected Mr. Bockmann after working with Egon Zehnder to recruit and consider candidates from across the country. He will succeed Mark Jansen who announced his plans to step down after a 12-year tenure as CEO.

“The search process went well, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” said Dan Cummings, chairman of the board. “Kai has more than a quarter of a century of global experience growing CPG companies, and we believe he is the leader we need to keep building our business and brand domestically and internationally, while continuing to deliver superior returns to our grower-owners.”

Mr. Bockmann most recently served as president and chief operating officer at Saputo Inc., one of the world’s largest dairy companies, where he led operations that included 67 plants and 18,000 employees across the U.S., Canada, Australia, Argentina, and the U.K. From 2017 to 2021, he and his team grew revenue from $11 billion to $14 billion. From 2012 to 2021, the international business he led grew from less than $500 million to more than $4 billion. Prior to that, Mr. Bockmann was at McCain, the world’s largest producer of frozen potatoes, where he served as president of the international division and accelerated international sales across 60 export markets, doubling revenues over four years.

“I’m excited by this phenomenal opportunity to join one of the most consistent and fastest-growing food and beverage companies in the world,” said Mr. Bockmann. “I look forward to learning from growers and team members and keeping our immediate focus on maintaining business continuity and growth momentum.”

Mr. Cummings said the board, Mr. Bockmann, Mr. Jansen, and the entire experienced executive team at Blue Diamond will work closely together to ensure a smooth transition in leadership over the next few months.

“We’re grateful for Mark’s support during the search and his commitment to helping set Kai and the cooperative up for continued success,” said Mr. Cummings.

Related: Egon Zehnder Recruits CEO for Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

Mr. Cummings said Blue Diamond’s snack almond business has more than a 50 percent market share in the U.S. and that Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze is the leading almond milk brand in the U.S., South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, and South Africa. In 2021, the company’s net sales totaled $1.6 billion.

Grower-Owned Cooperative

Blue Diamond Growers, a grower-owned cooperative representing approximately 3,000 of California’s almond growers, is the world’s leading almond marketer and processor. Established in 1910, it created the California almond industry and opened world markets for almonds. Headquartered in Sacramento, the company employs more than 1,800 people throughout its processing plants, receiving stations and gift shops.

This spring, Egon Zehnder retained its status as a Top 5 global executive search firm, according to Hunt Scanlon Media. With more than 500 consultants in 68 offices and 40 countries around the globe, Egon Zehnder works with public and private corporations, family-owned enterprises, and non-profit and government agencies to provide board advisory services, CEO and leadership succession planning, executive search and assessment, and leadership development solutions. Since 1964, the firm has been at the forefront of defining top leadership in the face of changing economic conditions as well as major transitions in the executive search field.

Related: Societe Generale Turns to Egon Zehnder to Find Next CEO

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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