May 14/San Francisco/Business Wire -- Del Monte Foods Company today organizational changes designed to further enhance the company's focus on marketing strategy, innovation and execution. The company has appointed William D. Pearce, a former chief marketing officer (CMO) at Taco Bell, as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, effective immediately. The company will also centralize all marketing functions in San Francisco.

Pearce brings over 20 years of consumer packaged foods experience, including senior marketing roles at Taco Bell, Campbell Soup and Procter & Gamble. As CMO at Taco Bell, Pearce was responsible for accelerating innovation-driven brand growth, building long-term brand equity, and improving overall profitability. At Taco Bell, he created new product platforms and led the largest new product introduction in Taco Bell history.

Before joining Taco Bell, Pearce was VP of marketing at Campbell Soup, where he managed a $700 million division of ready-to-eat food brands. Pearce also spent 11 years at Procter & Gamble, in successive roles with increasing marketing responsibilities. While at Procter & Gamble, he implemented the company's first product customization platform and led a marketing turnaround in the snacks area. Pearce also spent time early in his career in sales at Coca Cola and Miller Brewing Company. Responsibilities throughout his career have included marketing, R&D and market research. He received his MBA from Cornell University's Johnson School of Management.

In this newly created position of CMO, Pearce will oversee the entire marketing organization including Pet and consumer marketing as well as marketing services, including market research, package design and promotion. He will be headquartered in San Francisco, and report to Nils Lommerin, chief operating officer.

"We've created the position of chief marketing officer to further elevate our focus on marketing strategy, innovation, and execution across our portfolio," commented Rick Wolford, chairman and CEO. "This centralized organizational structure, located in San Francisco, will continue to build on our marketing success, enhance marketing's role in leading our future strategy, and significantly upgrade the company's ability to fully optimize both our marketing resources and our strong talent pool across Del Monte's entire branded portfolio. I am very pleased about our newly aligned management team and believe Nils, now joined by Bill, will increase the marketing impact on our businesses, strategy and performance. Del Monte looks forward to leveraging Bill's proven track record of attracting top talent, implementing clear and compelling marketing campaigns, and executing margin accretive innovation."

"There is no better time to join Del Monte Foods than right now," said Pearce. "Del Monte has a unique and a strong portfolio of leading pet and consumer brands and is poised to capture a real leadership position in key growth areas. I am looking forward to being part of, and working with, the Del Monte team to unlock the value potential of these brands. The opportunity to help Del Monte move to the next level with consumer-resonating marketing programs and innovation is very exciting."

Commented Lommerin, "This focused marketing leadership, combined with Bill's customer knowledge and innovation experience, will be key for Del Monte to further build on our already successful track record of brand-based, market performance. Having both the pet and consumer marketing teams integrated in one structure and in one place will be a clear advantage to Del Monte going forward. It creates a nucleus from which we can drive greater levels of innovation and also enhance our ability to attract talent. These organizational changes, combined with Bill's experience developing top-tier marketing organizations, will position us to improve our overall go-to-market strategy and drive increased success in the marketplace."

Del Monte's Corporate Service Center will remain in Pittsburgh and continue to provide shared services across the company, including Information Technology, Procurement/Supply Chain, Accounting and Payroll, as well as Research and Quality Systems.

The company also announced that Apurva Mody, senior vice president of Consumer Products, and Jeff Watters, senior vice president of Pet Products, will be leaving the company after a transition period during which they will work with the new CMO to help facilitate the transition.

"Apu and Jeff have made valuable contributions to our organization and have been instrumental in ensuring that we are able to make a seamless transition to this new marketing structure. We thank them for all their contributions and wish them well in their future endeavors," said Wolford.

Del Monte plans to relocate approximately 100 marketing and other related positions from Pittsburgh to San Francisco. The company currently employs approximately 330 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, 500 employees in Pittsburgh, and 18,000 employees, including seasonal workers, worldwide. Beginning fiscal 2010, Del Monte expects to achieve ongoing annual savings as a result of the centralization. The relocation is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months.

From the May 27, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash