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Two former Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) board chairmen, Douglas R. Conant, former Campbell Soup Co. president and CEO, and Richard G. Wolford, former chairman, president and CEO of Del Monte Foods, have received the trade organization’s highest honor, the GMA Hall of Achievement Awards. The awards were given last night before more than 800 industry leaders at the annual GMA Executive Conference at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Although each are unique in their contributions to the consumer packaged goods industry, both of our 2011 Hall of Achievement Award winners have exemplified unparalleled leadership, steadfast commitment to industry excellence, and outstanding records of personal achievement throughout their careers,” noted Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of Washington-based GMA. “Rick Wolford and Doug Conant are both remarkable visionaries and community leaders who have had significant impact on the industry over the last several decades.”
Wolford’s food industry career began in 1967, when he joined the finance department at Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Foods. He eventually became president of Dole Packaged Foods in 1982 and stayed with the company through 1987. A decade later, working with a private equity partnership, Wolford headed up the acquisition of San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods and joined the company as CEO. He was elected chairman of the board in May 2000. In March 2011, Wolford retired from Del Monte after almost 15 years. Wolford was also chairman of the GMA board of directors from January 2010 through February 2011. Before his board chairmanship, he was vice chairman of the board and as chairman of the Industry Affairs Council for five years, and was also a member of the board of the Consumer Goods Forum.
Conant became just the 11th leader of Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co. in its 140-year history when he was appointed president and CEO in January 2001. His 25 years of food industry experience at General Mills, Kraft and Nabisco helped him guide Campbell out of a decline in market value and considerably enhance the company’s financial profile. During his tenure, the company also earned the 2010 Catalyst Award for aiding the development and career advancement of women. In September 2010, Conant revealed that he would retire from Campbell in July 2011. He additionally has been an active member of the GMA board since 2001, serving as chairman from January 2008 through January 2010. Conant also chaired GMA’s Government Affairs Council, is a past chairman of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and was a member of the Consumer Goods Forum.
“Their passion for GMA and commitment to our industry is unsurpassed, and the association has benefited greatly from their sage advice and counsel,” said Bailey.
Honoring the extraordinary service and contributions of the consumer packaged goods industry’s most distinguished leaders, the GMA Hall of Achievement Award, now in its 27th year, has been presented in the past to AG Lafley of Procter & Gamble, Jeffrey Noddle of Supervalu Inc., Robert Rich of Rich Products Corp., Stephen Sanger of General Mills Inc., Jim Kilts of The Gillette Co. and Joseph Pichler of The Kroger Co.