The food industry faces several major sustainability issues that can be broadly categorized into three main areas: environmental, social, and economic.
Food production and its transportation often involve multiple stakeholders so ensuring sustainability throughout the supply chain can be challenging and is often responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions contributing to companies’ carbon footprint. Food production uses significant amounts of water when water scarcity is a growing concern in many parts of the world.
The expansion of agricultural land is a major driver of deforestation, which is a significant contributor to climate change and can have negative impacts on local communities, including displacement and loss of livelihoods.
The food industry relies on a significant amount of labor, much of which is low-paid and often subject to poor working conditions.
At the other end of the spectrum, food waste is a major issue, particularly for fresh produce, with around one-third of all food produced for human consumption being lost or wasted.
Also, the food industry is often characterized by thin profit margins, which can make it difficult for businesses to invest in sustainable practices.
Despite these challenges, a global food manufacturing organization and a household name in many countries with an established presence in the United States since 2017, is on a mission to “inspire more Americans to eat healthier for a healthier planet.”
Their strong values focused on sustainability and their internal priorities to make a positive impact on healthier eating habits have recently helped them achieve the coveted B Corp certification awarded to companies that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Our client established its footprint in the United States by acquiring a well-known and respected family-run business which they are in the process of incorporating into its global brand. Ever since the acquisition, they have been on a transformation journey to implement strategic changes to the business that will help tackle sustainability challenges.
Building a team to deliver its business objectives simultaneously across various functional areas including Talent Acquisition, Human Resources, Operations, Finance, Sales, and Procurement required a partner with solid industry expertise and a deep understanding of the company culture, values, and existing dynamics.
Like many strong long-lasting partnerships, this one started when Pacific International Executive Search successfully assisted the company in two initial appointments. Another couple of mandates followed – a Finance Manager in one of the manufacturing sites, then an HR Manager, and a group of searches within HR that brought in key talent into the business.
For Adam Nuzie, Group Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, Americas at Pacific International, and the lead consultant on these projects, Haley Gibson, Client Partner, Americas, these search mandates were a great opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the company’s culture and familiarise themselves and the wider Pacific team with the company’s values.
However, even for an established Executive Search Partner, executing a mandate for a 20-strong transformational and diverse team to help drive change across the organization, and improve sustainability while not compromising on its commitment to its people was never going to be without challenges.
Haley explained: “Firstly, our client’s brand is not yet well-known in the US. Typically, the candidates recognize the products like single-serving pre-made salad bowls that you can buy at a grocery store, but I usually have to take them through the entire client history to get them excited about the opportunity.”
“Secondly, the client’s corporate headquarters is located in Los Angeles, CA, a location that is extremely expensive to live in. They also have two plants – one in Georgia in a town that’s just too far to commute from Atlanta and another one in New Jersey which is also not a very desirable location to move to.”
“In addition, at the time, the market was saturated with companies in this sector willing to pay whatever it takes to bring in talent while our client, despite offering competitive salaries, simply could not compete on compensation alone,” Haley added.
Despite the challenges, Pacific’s team leveraged their intricate client knowledge to formulate a great story they could take to the market to attract the right kind of candidate. The client was on a transformational journey powered by their values deeply steeped in sustainability and would be an excellent match for anyone who wants to make an impact and be part of a mission-driven global brand that genuinely cares about its people.
Haley explained: “After mapping the local market and identifying key talent using research-led techniques, leveraging our strong network in the space, paired with a targeted go-to-market approach, we have been able to deliver strong, diverse shortlists of candidates who brought change management skills and people focused values for each of the positions.”
As well as being important to our client, diversity is always at the forefront of our minds and we constantly strive to deliver diverse shortlists even if it is not always easy, particularly in manufacturing.
Haley added: “We are particularly proud of providing a diverse shortlist for each of the mandates and we are happy to say that seven of the successfully placed candidates were diverse hires. The client is delighted with this outcome. ”
Among the eighteen successfully closed executive search mandates, we were able to provide strong talent within manufacturing facilities including Plant Leaders, Human Resources Managers, Maintenance Managers, Process Engineers, and Operations Leaders. Within the corporate function, we have been able to deliver talent within Finance Leadership, Talent Acquisition, Sales, Corporate Quality, and Procurement leadership, including a Procurement Director.
“Understanding the ever-changing and fast-paced talent landscape within the food industry, deploying research-led techniques, and thoroughly executing the Pacific-suggested go-to-market strategy resulted in the delivery of extraordinary and diverse talent well ahead of the deadline,” Haley stated.
“We spoke to hundreds of candidates to date to identify the top talent for our client. The opportunities may not have been right for many of them at this point, but they are now all familiar with our client’s brand and we are proud to have had the opportunity to act as their brand ambassadors.
“Following the successful completion of this multi-hire project, Pacific has firmly established its position as a Trusted Advisor and retained Talent Acquisition partner. As we continue working on the two remaining searches, we have received very positive feedback on the candidates placed thus far and are happy to hear of the impact they’ve made to date. We look forward to our ongoing partnership as we move through 2023 and beyond,” Haley concluded.