US poultry food group Tyson Foods has appointed senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods Donnie Smith as its CEO, with immediate effect.

In addition, the company has also appointed Jim Lochner, currently senior group vice president of fresh meats, as its chief operating officer.

Leland Tollett, who has been serving as interim president and CEO of the company since January when Dick Bond stepped down, will continue in the coming months to assist Smith and Lochner in the transition, the company said today (19 November).

“The Tyson board and the Tyson family congratulate Donnie Smith and Jim Lochner and wish them the best for the future success of our company,” Tyson said. “We appreciate Leland Tollett stepping into the CEO role earlier in the year and working so hard to help turn the company around.”

Tollett added: “Significant progress has been made. I have worked with both Donnie and Jim for a number of years and am convinced that they are the right leadership team for this next phase in the evolution of our company. Their extensive experience inside the company has fully prepared them to continue the progress we have made in the last year.”

Smith, 50, joined Tyson in 1980 and has held various leadership roles in the company, including purchasing; environmental, health and safety; food safety and quality assurance; manufacturing services; information systems; and logistics, before becoming senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods.

Lochner, 57, joined Ibp, later purchased by Tyson, in 1983 as director of research. Previously, he was a quality control food technologist at Oscar Mayer Foods. In 2001, he was named group vice president of Tyson fresh meats, senior group vice president of Margin Optimization in 2005 and then senior group vice president of fresh meats in 2007.

Successors to Smith and Lochner are expected to be named within the next two weeks.