Johnsonville, the privately-owned US meat products group which is one of the largest sausage producers in the country, has revealed former Kraft Heinz executive Don Fussner is to become its new CEO.

Currently the company’s CFO and COO, Fussner will take the reins in January after current CEO Nick Meriggioli retires.

Fussner joined Johnsonville in 2019, first as CFO and later adding the COO responsibilities in 2022. Before joining the company, he had a 24-year career with Kraft Food.

Based in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, Johnsonville can trace its roots back to 1945 when the Stayer family established a butchers’ shop. The same family continues to run the business today.

Meriggioli became CEO in 2015, following owner Ralph Stayer’s 47-year tenure in the role.

On his successor, Shelly Stayer, Johnsonville owner and chairperson, said:
“Don is a strategic and operational leader with proven success across the entire value chain. He is a strong coach and people-focused leader who will continue to prioritise Johnsonville’s unique culture.”

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She praised Meriggioli for contributing to company and for his leadership around the Covid pandemic.

“If our culture remained a priority, high member engagement and business growth would follow,” Stayer said. “Nick has modelled that and has been a strong advocate for our Johnsonville Way culture, and we are especially grateful for his leadership.”

Johnsonville, which has manufacturing facilities in the American Midwest, now sells its sausages in 45 countries.

It produces more than 70 different types of sausage products, including: brats, grillers, Italian sausage, smoked-cooked links and breakfast sausage.

The company, which employs around 2,000 people, has the facilities to process 3,400 pigs daily.