Food and Beverage Business

New CEO Appointed at Canada’s Daiya Foods

New CEO Appointed at Canada's Daiya Foods dairy alternatives, Vegetarian and Vegan Food and Beverage Business

Daiya Foods, a plant-based food group based in Canada and owned by Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, has announced the appointment of Hajime Fujita as its new CEO. Fujita, who takes over from Michael Watt, will assume the leadership role after Watt’s successful tenure since 2019.

In a statement sent to Just Food, the company confirmed that “both the Board of Directors and Michael Watt agree that the time is right to appoint a new CEO. Mr. Watt served in the role of CEO for four years, leading the company through the pandemic and overseeing the development of Daiya’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burnaby, BC.”

Fujita brings over 17 years of experience in business and financial planning within the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and electronics industries across the US, Canada, Indonesia, China, and Japan.

Moreover, he most recently served as vice president of business planning at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and will now be responsible for managing operations in North America as well as overseeing the brand’s continued international expansion.

Daiya’s product line features a variety of plant-based cheese slices, dressings, spreads, yogurts, and frozen dairy-free meals and desserts. The company sells its products through 25,000 retailers in the US and Canada and also operates in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Fujita played a pivotal role in Otsuka Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition of Daiya in 2017 and has been involved with the company since 2018 in various capacities, according to the company’s announcement.

Commenting on his appointment, Fujita stated, “There is enormous potential in the Daiya brand to push the highly competitive plant-based category to new heights, particularly through product innovation and bold marketing.”

Under Fujita’s leadership, Daiya is set to invest in fermentation technology to add fermented plant-based cheeses to its portfolio, with the fermentation site set to be installed at the Burnaby facility.

The Burnaby facility, as per the government of British Columbia’s official website, covers around 400,000 square feet. Just Food has approached the group for details on the size of its Burnaby workforce and whether this is its sole manufacturing facility.

As part of its growth strategy, Daiya is positioned to leverage these developments and further expand its footprint in the food and drink business, as well as tap into current food and beverage industry trends and consumer preferences within the plant-based category.

This move comes as part of the group’s overarching vision to drive the highly competitive plant-based category through product innovation and bold marketing efforts, thereby gaining a competitive edge in the market.

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