The US’s largest food company, Kraft, yesterday (26 June) announced that its board of directors had decided to replace Roger Deromedi with Irene Rosenfeld as CEO, effective immediately.

The move has been linked to the Kraft’s plans to separate from its parent company the Altria Group, while Kraft has come under increasing fire from investors who have been critical of the company’s failure to grow sales and returns. Kraft is currently engaged in a process of refocusing its portfolio and cutting costs with the aim of driving future growth.

Rosenfeld’s appointment, Louis C. Camilleri chairman of the board said, is hoped to have a positive impact on the company’s mid- to long-term goals of boosting shareholder returns, becoming a stand-alone company and driving future growth.

“The entire board is delighted to have Irene in place. While the fundamentals of the business continue to improve, we are confident that Irene will accelerate the execution of Kraft’s growth strategy, build value for shareholders, and lead Kraft when it becomes a fully independent company,” he said.

Rosenfeld, who most recently served as chairman and CEO of Frito-Lay, had previously worked at Kraft and General Foods for more than 20-years. During her time at Kraft, the company said, she served as president of Kraft’s North American business and led the integration of the $19bn Nabisco acquisition as well as the restructuring and turnaround of a number of key businesses.