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McCain Foods names new president

Current CFO Max Koeune is the new fry guy in town, replacing outgoing head Dirk Van de Put

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Canadian frozen foods giant McCain Foods has named Max Koeune as its new president and CEO, succeeding outgoing head Dirk Van de Put.

Koeune (pictured) joined Toronto-based McCain as its CFO in 2012, following a lengthy career with Groupe Danone that saw him rise to the head of corporate development. Koeune spent more than three-and-a-half years in that role, overseeing more than 40 transactions that included deals in Russia, Brazil, India, the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

McCain did not respond to interview requests, but in a statement chairman Allison McCain called Koeune an “excellent leader,” who has demonstrated a passion for cultivating the company’s unique family culture while delivering “consistently strong” financial results.

“I believe there is no person better suited to seamlessly assume the role of McCain president and CEO,” said McCain.

Van de Put spent seven years with McCain, and is credited with growing the company’s net sales by more than 50%, achieving double-digital EBITDA growth in each of the last six years. He will succeed Irene Rosenfeld as CEO of Mondelēz International – which operates several billion-dollar brands including Oreo, Trident and Cadbury – in November.

Privately held McCain is the world’s largest producer of frozen French fries, with annual sales of more than $9 billion. The company operates 51 production facilities on six continents – including six factories in Canada – and employs approximately 20,000 people.

The company recently announced it was expanding capacity at its French fry manufacturing facility in Coaldale, Alta. in order to meet what it called “continued strong demand” for its products both domestically and internationally.

McCain has invested more than $1 billion in factories in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Belgium, Argentina, Colombia and India in the past 18 months, part of an ongoing global capacity investment program.

The global frozen French fry market grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 3.8% between 2009-2016, according to a March report from Research and Markets, and is currently valued at US$19 billion.

Market growth is currently being driven by the rising popularity of Western style foods among youngsters, as well as expanding fast food chains, changing lifestyles, increasing incomes and urbanization. Canada’s frozen French fries market grew 7.6% between 2011 and 2016, to $302.1 million, according to the research firm Euromonitor International.

The combination of convenience and consistent quality and taste helped frozen French fries take over from fresh cut potatoes in the 1940s, according to Research and Markets. Today, more than 80% of frozen French fries are used by the food service sector.

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