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Smithfield Foods CEO to retire in ’21

Smithfield Foods’ President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Sullivan plans to retire in early 2021, the company announced today. Dennis Organ, the company’s chief operating officer of U.S. operations, will succeed Sullivan as president and chief executive officer.

“It has been a great honor and privilege to lead Smithfield for the past five years,” Sullivan said in a statement released Oct. 19. “As a leading global food and agriculture company, we have an incredibly important role to play in society. It is an obligation we have proudly embraced over our more than 80-year history. We have persevered through an extraordinary time in 2020.”

During his first four years leading the company, Sullivan oversaw a period of the highest profits in the company’s history. “In 2020, his fifth year, the company was well on its way to yet another record year, recording an incredibly successful first quarter. Then, the pandemic hit,” the company said.

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sullivan allocated more than $600 million to date to implement benefits intended “to keep team members as healthy and safe as possible, assist them through the pandemic and reward them for their willingness to accept the enormous responsibility of maintaining the nation’s food supply,” according to Smithfield Foods.

Organ joined Smithfield in 2010 and assumed his current position as chief operating officer, U.S. operations, in 2019. In that capacity, for the past two years, he has overseen the day-to-day operations of the company’s entire vertically integrated domestic business, including more than 40,000 team members in 32 states.

Based in town since 1936, Smithfield Foods has about 2,000 employees in Isle of Wight County. Nationwide, the company employs 40,000, and Smithfield has an additional 15,000 European employees. Brands under the corporate umbrella include Eckrich and Nathan’s Famous. The company was acquired by WH Group, a Hong Kong-based company, in 2013.