World’s Top Pork Producer Replaces CEO With Sullivan to Retire

The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc., said it’s replacing its chief executive officer as Ken Sullivan is set to retire in early 2021 after a four-decade career in the industry.

Dennis Organ, who took the post chief operating officer of Smithfield’s U.S. operations in 2019, will take over the top job early next year, the company said in a statement Monday. Sullivan, who carried out the integration of Smithfield’s various acquisitions into one united company, brought four years of record profits to the firm owned by Hong-Kong listed WH Group Ltd.

“In 2020, his fifth year, the company was well on its way to yet another record year, recording an incredibly successful first quarter,” the company said, adding that his retirement has been planned. “Then, the pandemic hit,” derailing profits.

Smithfield and other American meat producers came under fire earlier this year as the coronavirus spread among workers, forcing companies to halt production lines. At the time, Sullivan warned of meat shortages, while Tyson Foods Inc. said the supply chain was broken. President Donald Trump later issued an executive order to keep the facilities open.

READ: Smithfield Shakes Up Management to Move on From ‘Same Old Bacon’

Smithfield says it spent over $600 million this year to implement measures to keep its staff safe and healthy, as well as assist them through the pandemic and reward employees for “their willingness to accept the enormous responsibility of maintaining the nation’s food supply.”

Organ joined the company in 2010 and for the past two years, he has overseen day-to-day operations in the U.S., including its more than 40,000 team members in 32 states. Sullivan said it was the “right time” to step aside for the next generation of leadership.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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