People Moves: VEB Hires New VP of Marketing; New CEO at Nestlé Waters

KELLAM MATTIE NAMED NEW VP OF COKE VEB

Coke is bringing back a former employee to take the helm at the company’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) division.

Kellam Mattie, who started her career at Coke in 1997 as a brand manager for Coca-Cola Classic, was named as Vice President, Marketing and Innovation for VEB on Thursday. Her appointment comes after the departure of former VEB VP Kim Paige in February.

In a note to employees sent late Thursday, VEB President and GM Scott Uzzell said Mattie would lead marketing strategy, innovation and capabilities for all brand businesses.

Following her stint as brand manager, Mattie worked on Dasani at the time of its launch in 1999 and led the brand for four years. In the note, Uzzell said that the experience helped Mattie become “deeply engaged in the health and wellness category, which makes her particularly well-suited to join VEB.”

After departing Coke, Mattie, who holds a MBA from Duke University, joined marketing firm The Zyman Group as a director and partner. In 2005, she founded Flourish Marketing, a consulting firm that has worked with consumer product brands such as Burnett’s Vodka, Evan Williams Bourbon and Invisalign.

Mattie was not made available for an interview for this story.

FERNANDO MERCE NAMED CEO OF NESTLE WATERS N.A.

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Fernando Mercé, the former CEO of Nestlé Purina Latin America & Caribbean, has been named President and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, effective May 1, 2017.

“Today, we are at an inflection point in the North American consumer beverage category, and I’m looking forward to becoming a part of it,” Mercé said in a press release. “Following a shift over many years, bottled water is now America’s number one beverage choice, displacing carbonated soft drinks. As this migration continues, we are well-positioned to expand in the United States and Canada with leading brands that are poised for strong growth.”

Mercé, who holds an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, has been with Nestle for 25 years, starting as an Industrial Engineer with the Operations Improvement Team in 1992. After transitioning to marketing, he served as Global Marketing Director in the PetCare Global Strategic Business Unit, and later as Vice President and Deputy of Nestlé’s Americas Zone before moving to Nestlé Purina in 2011.

As CEO, Mercé will oversee operations in the U.S. and Canada. He will also join the global board at Nestlé Waters.

Mercé replaces former Nestlé Waters North America CEO Tim Brown, who departed the company earlier this month to become Chief Operating Officer at Greek yogurt brand Chobani.

FOOD SERVICE VET JOINS BOARD AT TRUE DRINKS

True Drinks, makers of the kid-focused AquaBall Naturally Flavored Water, has tapped James Greco, an industry veteran with extensive experience in quick service restaurant sector, to join its board of directors.

Greco has spent over 25 years as an executive in the category, serving as CEO of Bruegger’s Enterprises from 2003 to 2011. After taking the reigns as President and CEO of Italian eatery chain Sbarro in 2012, where he oversaw 1000 restaurant locations in 40 countries, he joined fast-casual chain Newk’s as COO in 2014 and later also served as company president.

Greco, a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, currently serves as President and CEO of Pilgrim Holdings, LLC, a consulting and investment group in the restaurant and food manufacturing industries. He has been in the role since 2001.

“True Drinks is uniquely positioned at this point in its history for accelerated growth with a proven product,” said Greco in a press release. “What attracted me to True Drinks is the combination of preservative-free, attractive and practical packaging, an all-natural, zero-sugar formula, and a world class management team that has extensive contacts in the grocery and convenience store space.”

“Jim has a proven track record of success in growing high profile brands, and we are excited to have him on our board,” said Sherman in a press release. “As we continue to drive our distribution efforts, Jim’s experience and reputation in the restaurant industry will be invaluable as we break into new markets and continue to strive to exceed World Health Organization guidelines in lowering calorie counts for kids’ meals in schools, homes and restaurants.”

MEGHAN DISCH NAMED MARKETING VP, SADOWSKY JOINS BOARD AT GOODBELLY

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NextFoods, the makers of GoodBelly probiotic beverages and shots, announced two major hires this week: former WhiteWave Foods marketing director Meghan Disch has joined the company as VP of Marketing, while industry veteran Ken Sadowsky has been appointed to the Board of Directors.

Disch served in a variety of roles within the natural and organic space during her nine years at WhiteWave, including working as a brand manager for plant-based food and beverage platforms Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free.

Disch’s most recent position was as marketing director for the Seed Innovation Team, an entrepreneurship-focused division within WhiteWave aimed at identifying and developing breakthrough innovations for the company.

“Just the idea of having great people and offering functional foods that help people in their life was really attractive to me,” Disch told BevNET. She said that, prior to joining the company, she admired GoodBelly’s advocacy model and how it brought an approachable, humorous personality to the subject of digestive health through its social media engagement.

“I think it’s up to us to continue to be the [category] leaders and help consumers understand the probiotic space and what it can do for you,” Disch said. “My hope is to continue to be that leader, to educate consumers on the landscape and help them navigate it because there are so many things coming into the market today.”

As the newest member of the company’s board of directors, Sadowsky brings a wealth of beverage industry experience to the role. After helping develop the non-alcoholic beverage division through brands like Snapple and Red Bull as a principal at Atlas Distribution, he has since earned a reputation as an influential thought leader and shrewd assessor of emerging brands and market trends. Sadowsky was an early investor in and a board member at vitaminwater, and currently has a seat on the board of directors at VIta Coco and Hint Water.

Sadowsky told BevNET that his relationship with GoodBelly began with his experience as a consumer, and then developed following a meeting with CEO Alan Murray.

“It’s the one that I chose to back as a consumer, and I guess I’m just in a fortunate position where, being a known commodity in the industry, they were happy to hear that I was a fan of the brand, and then it just sort of happened organically after that,” he said.

Looking forward, Sadowsky said he thought that GoodBelly’s strong product execution of and its use of a proprietary strain of probiotics, with at least 20 million per serving in all its offerings, would help the brand create distinction amidst the rapidly expanding category.

“I think one of the focuses is really just to let people know how good GoodBelly is relative to the competitors and then you go from there,” he said. As food and beverage brands scramble to integrate probiotics in some degree to various products, he said he hoped “guardrails are defined about what can really be called beneficial probiotics.”