July 3/Toronto/Globe Newswire -- Steve Bromley, chief executive officer of SunOpta Inc., appointed Hendrik (Rik) Jacobs to the position of president and chief operating officer, effective August 1, 2012. In this role, Jacobs will report directly to Steve Bromley and assume operational responsibility for SunOpta Foods, the company's core integrated natural and organic foods business.

Jacobs brings over 20 years of international sales, marketing, innovation, strategic development and general management experience to this role. Over the past 11 years, Jacobs held a number of progressively responsible positions with Tetra Pak, a supplier of equipment and materials for the processing and packaging of liquid food products, with revenues of approximately $12 billion in 165 markets worldwide. Most recently, he served as cluster vice president for North Europe with responsibility for the U.K., Ireland, Scandanavia and the Baltic States. Prior to this role, he served as managing director Benelux with responsibility for the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg, as vice president of Strategy and Planning with responsibility for setting long term technology and product development strategies, and as vice president of Sales for Tetra Pak USA. Prior to joining Tetra Pak, Jacobs held a number of international sales, marketing and general management positions with PepsiCo, Royal Dutch Ahold and the Coca-Cola Company. He holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the American Graduate School of International Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Oregon State University.

Steve Bromley, chief executive officer of SunOpta commented, "I am really excited to welcome Rik to SunOpta.  Rik's extensive international commercial and industry expertise will be very valuable as we continue to expand our commercial development and innovation priorities and align our operating segments to markets and customer segments serviced, rather than by historical product groupings.  Rik will bring a new perspective to these initiatives and play a key role as we continue to build a global leader in natural and organic foods, categories we believe offer excellent long-term growth potential."  

In hand with the appointment of Jacobs to the new role of president and chief operating officer, Tony Tavares, the company's current vice president and chief operating officer will be leaving the company effective July 27, 2012.  Tavares joined SunOpta in 2008 and over the course of the last four years has focused on improving the effectiveness of the company's food operations through the implementation of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement processes, sustainability initiatives, enhanced business processes and technologies and improved coordination across operating groups.

Steve Bromley, chief executive officer of SunOpta further commented, "I want to thank Tony for his many contributions over the last four years and wish him much success with his future endeavors. Tony has contributed to building a solid operational foundation during his time with the Company and Rik will now leverage this platform as we work to enhance our commercial and innovation activities. We have grown rapidly since our entry into natural and organic foods in 1999 and believe we are well positioned in markets with excellent long-term growth potential. The addition of Rik is yet another step as we continue to position SunOpta as a global leader in natural and organic foods."

 From the July 3, 2012, Prepared Foods Daily News