SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen leaves

  • After about five years in the position
  • Praise, thanks and good wishes for Ennen
  • Brian Kocher taking over
  • Ennen spoke at length and said 138 words

(exechange) — Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 6, 2023 — Joe Ennen, chief executive of SunOpta, leaves his position. As announced by SunOpta Inc. in a news release on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, Joseph D. (Joe) Ennen leaves his post as chief executive officer at the food and mineral company, after about five years in the role, effective January 2, 2024.

Generally speaking, it raises questions when a CEO leaves his post at short notice.

Joe Ennen’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Brian W. Kocher, most recently Chief Executive Officer at Calavo Growers Inc.

The fact that Joe Ennen’s successor is brought in from outside suggests that the board may seek to stimulate change with fresh ideas and new initiatives.

In general, an outsider does not have the constraints of an insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions.

“Expanding margins and driving operational productivity”

SunOpta did not give an explicit reason for Joe Ennen’s departure from the CEO post. SunOpta stated: “The Board is confident in Mr. Kocher’s ability to lead SunOpta through its next phase of growth and his experience expanding margins and driving operational productivity will be incredibly valuable to the business.”

Precise information regarding Joe Ennen’s future plans was not immediately available.


SunOpta said: “SunOpta Inc. (“SunOpta” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY), a U.S.-based global pioneer fueling the future of sustainable, plant-based foods and beverages, today announced the planned retirement of Joseph D. Ennen. After five years of dedicated service, Mr. Ennen will retire from SunOpta as its Chief Executive Officer and director on SunOpta’s Board of Directors (the “Board”).”

Share price decline since December 2022

The announcement follows a decline in SunOpta Inc.’s share price of 44% since December 2022.

In the position of CEO since 2019

Joe Ennen became CEO of the Company in 2019.

To ensure a seamless transition, which the Board believes is in the best interests of all stakeholders, Ennen will continue as an advisor to the Board and Kocher until April 1, 2024.

Ennen’s bio reads as follows:


SunOpta Inc. (April 2019 – Present)

  • Chief Executive Officer

Columbus Manufacturing, Inc. (2015 – 2017)

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • President

Safeway, Inc. (2009 – 2015)

  • Senior Vice President and General Manager of Own Brands

PepsiCo/Frito Lay (2004 – 2009)

  • Group Vice President – Innovation
  • Vice President Marketing – Core Brands


University of Minnesota (B.S., Business (Finance & Marketing)

University of Michigan (MBA, concentrations in Marketing & Corporate Strategy).

138 words by Joe Ennen

In the release announcing his departure as CEO of SunOpta Inc., Joe Ennen received praise, thanks and good wishes.

In announcing his departure, Joe Ennen spoke at length and said 138 words.

“Continue to drive growth and optimize our network”

Joe Ennen stated: “It has been an honor to serve as CEO of SunOpta during this period of transformative growth and I especially want to thank the SunOpta team for their passion, hard work and dedication. I believe the Company is well positioned for its next phase of growth with a current portfolio that has demonstrated steady long-term increases in volume, revenue and Adjusted EBITDA. We are reaffirming our Q4 outlook and 2024 forecast to further reflect our confidence in the future. Brian’s deep food industry expertise, coupled with his shared values and commitment to furthering our purpose, make him the right leader to continue to drive growth and optimize our network. I look forward to working closely with Brian during this transition and I have the utmost confidence that his leadership will inspire the continued growth and mission of SunOpta.”

Push-out Score for Joe Ennen’s move determined

The Push-out Score indicates on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely it is that Joe Ennen was pushed out or felt pressure to leave his position.

exechange reached out to SunOpta and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 50.2023 ($).