CANADA – SunOpta, a Canadian plant-based food and drink producer, is undergoing a leadership transition as CEO Joe Ennen retires, paving the way for the appointment of Brian Kocher as the new chief executive effective January 2nd.  

Ennen, who served as the CEO since 2019, played a pivotal role in the company’s success, overseeing a comprehensive portfolio transformation and fortifying the balance sheet. 

While Ennen is set to retire officially on April 1st, 2023, he will continue to contribute as an advisor to the board and to Kocher during the transition period.  

Kocher, brings a wealth of experience from his roles in various food companies, including Calavo Growers Inc. and Castellini Group of Cos. 

He expressed enthusiasm for his new role, emphasizing his commitment to continuing SunOpta’s growth trajectory and fulfilling its mission of “fueling the future of food.” 

Dean Hollis, the chair of SunOpta’s board of directors said, “With Joe’s support, we were thrilled to find Brian and are confident he is the right leader to continue the company’s strategy to deliver significant long-term sustainable growth and value for shareholders.” 

Hollis highlighted Kocher’s deep industry expertise and shared values, emphasizing their alignment with the company’s purpose. 

SunOpta, looking ahead, has set ambitious goals, aiming to double its revenue from US$935 million in the 2022 financial year to US$2 billion in the next five to seven years.  

The company plans to achieve this growth through strategic mergers and acquisitions, focusing on three core areas: plant-based drinks, better-for-you snacks, and nutrition beverages. 

In response to disappointing second-quarter results in August, SunOpta revised its 2023 sales outlook, lowering the full-year forecast to US$800 million-SU$900 million in revenue, anticipating a 4%-6% decrease in sales for the annual period.  

Despite this, the company remains optimistic about its future, recently selling certain assets of its frozen fruit Sunrise Growers brand to Nature’s Touch for $141 million. 

As Ennen expresses confidence in SunOpta’s next phase of growth, the company reaffirms its Q4 outlook and presents a forecast for 2024.  

SunOpta anticipates an 8%-13% rise in revenue to $670 million-$700 million and a 14%-21% increase in adjusted EBITDA to $87 million-$92 million in its 2024 fiscal year. 

Based in Eden Prairie, SunOpta manufactures a diverse range of food products, including plant-based beverages and organic fruit processing.  

With the appointment of Kocher, the company aims to build on its achievements and position itself for sustained growth in the dynamic plant-based food and drink market. 

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