General Mill’s Annie’s organic chief resigns

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

General Mills' added Annie's to its US natural and organic brands portfolio in 2014. Pic: Annie's
General Mills' added Annie's to its US natural and organic brands portfolio in 2014. Pic: Annie's

Related tags General mills Organic food Advertising Organic certification

John Foraker, president of General Mills’ organic foods unit Annie’s, announced on LinkedIn late last week he is leaving at the end of August, but denies it’s due to the food giant’s embittered sales results.

It also comes as Annie’s is facing lawsuit alleging false marketing claims.

Inroads into organic

John Foraker
John Foraker

Foraker remained as president of the Berkeley, California-based company when General Mills acquired it in 2014 for $820m, transforming it into an important entity for the food giant.

He wrote on LinkedIn: “My one year turned to nearly three … we nearly doubled the business, nearly doubled the percentage of our business that is certified organic, and extended our reach from 8m to 20m households.”

The company's US natural and organic brands portfolio is expected to generate $1.5bn in sales by 2020.

New roads

Foraker noted his decision was also based on his own ambition to forge his own startup in the San Francisco Bay area.

He stressed his decision has “absolutely nothing to do with General Mills’ recent struggles.

“I cannot imagine working for a better or more worthy big company in the food space, notwithstanding the current challenges,”​he said.

General Mills’ recently reported its net sales for Q4 declined 3%, while its full-year 2017 sakes had slipped 4%.

Where are the strawberries?

Annie's strawberry

Last week, consumer Raymond Alvandi filed a class action lawsuit in a California federal court purporting the organic food company’s strawberry fruit snacks do not contain any strawberries.

He is accusing the company of using false advertising, deceptive marketing and misbranding to sell its line of Summer Strawberry Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks.

According to Annie’s website, the ingredient list for Annie’s Summer Strawberry Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks includes tapioca syrup, pear juice from concentrate, cane sugar, sunflower oil and carnauba wax.

The suit seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the alleged false and deceptive advertising, along with statutory, compensatory, treble and punitive damages.

Bridget Christenson, Global Communications, General Mills, told this site the company doesn’t typically comment on pending litigation, but “we do stand behind the accuracy of our labels.”

The case is Alvandi v. Annie's Inc., case number 2:17-cv-05691, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

New leadership

Carla Vernon, currently vice president of natural and organic growth acceleration at General Mills, will succeed Foraker when he leaves later this month.

However, Foraker will continue as adviser to the North American Leadership team and the Annie's unit.

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