Written by The Business Journal Staff
The appointment, announced today, is effective Aug. 29.
Flanagan, 48, most recently served as president of ConAgra Food’s Snacks Division. She will succeed Ron Foster, grandson of company founders Max and Verda Foster. Foster previously announced his plans to step down. He will remain a Foster Farms owner and member of the board of directors.
“The board unanimously selected Laura Flanagan as the ideal executive to guide Foster Farms during a time of significant growth,” Foster said. “She has an impressive record of transforming and growing household consumer brands across an ever-shifting landscape. We are confident that her strategic approach will lead Foster Farms to new heights within the U.S. meat and poultry industry.”
Before taking leadership of the Snacks Division, Flanagan served as president of ConAgra’s Convenient Meals Division from 2008 to 2011, revitalizing and expanding key brands. She also led initiatives to promote diversity, develop internal talent and build skills and capabilities throughout ConAgra.
“Foster Farms is a strong competitor in the national poultry landscape in large part because of its family-owned roots and its steadfast commitment to truly locally grown, fresh poultry,” Flanagan said. “I intend to honor the Foster family’s legacy for excellence while growing the business, guiding our dedicated employees and maintaining the trust of a new generation of consumers who care deeply about the food they feed their families, especially organic and antibiotic-free poultry choices.”
Under Ron Foster’s leadership, Foster Farms grew by 70 percent and became the nation’s first major poultry producer to be certified by the American Humane Association.
Based in Livingston, Foster Farms has been hit with a series of recalls in recent years, including a 2015 product recall related to packaging contamination and two additional recalls in 2014 and 2013 related to salmonella contamination.
In October 2015, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack commended Foster Farms for the company’s leadership in food safety after the company instituted new system-wide safety programs.
Foster Farms’ current food safety performance record is recognized as being among the best in the U.S. poultry industry. “Since 2013, we have succeeded in advancing Salmonella control for the benefit of our consumers, customers and for the industry nationwide,” stated a release issued by Foster Farms.
“Foster Farms continues to pursue innovative research on Salmonella control through the insights of its food safety advisory board and the company will share the results of this research for the benefit of the industry,” the press release stated. “The company has made a direct investment of more than $50 million in food safety initiatives.”