Prepared Foods of April 11, 2005 enewsletter

Hershey Foods Corp. has recruited a Kraft Foods executive to head its new U.S. Snacks Group.

Michele Buck was named president of the division and senior vice president of the corporation, the company said. She will join the company later this month and report to Richard H. Lenny, Hershey Foods' chairman, president and CEO.

Hershey Foods created the snacks division in late February, along with a division to focus on its core candy business. Thomas K. Hernquist, the company's chief marketing officer, had been named president of the new confectionery group.

"Michele is an excellent addition to the Hershey executive team," Lenny said. "Her extensive experience across multiple snack categories and her strong track record will enable us to quickly and successfully execute our snack-market strategy as we extend our reach into this growing market."

Buck is one of several former Kraft executives to join Hershey, including Lenny.

"Hershey's brands and innovative products have generated excitement in the snack market," she said. "I have respect for the company and its culture and look forward to working with the executive team and the snacks business group to grow this business."

Buck was a senior vice president and general manager of Kraft Confections, a business that included the Life Savers, Altoids, CremeSavers and Toblerone brands. She also has held marketing positions with Frito-Lay and Kraft General Foods.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. acquired the Life Savers and Altoids brands from Kraft last November, beating out Hershey, which also bid for the business.

Buck also had been a marketing vice president for Kraft's Planters peanut division, another business Hershey is rumored to have its eye on. Hershey acquired a competing business, Mauna Lao Nut Corp., late last year.

"[Kraft Foods] was their [Hershey's] biggest competitor in that segment before," said Erin Smith, an analyst with New York-based Argus Research. "The right idea would be to try to get somebody from there to help them compete."

Buck is a native of central Pennsylvania and has a bachelor's degree from Shippensburg University. She has a master's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina.