TreeHouse Foods Inc. has named Kristy Waterman as its next general counsel and executive vice president beginning July 1.
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Waterman joins TreeHouse, based in Oak Brook, Ill., from Dairy Farmers of America division DFA Dairy Brands. Before that, she worked for major milk producer Dean Foods Co., which was partially acquired byDFA Dairy Brands for $425 million in 2020.

Waterman succeeds Tom O’Neill, who joined TreeHouse in 2005 and will now transition into a consulting role, according to a Tuesday statement from the company.

“This was a really great opportunity in an industry that I felt comfortable with and was excited about, with a lot of opportunity to add value based on my securities and M&A background,” Waterman told Bloomberg Law.

TreeHouse split from parent company Dean Foods in 2005 and produces private label packaged foods and beverages across North America and Italy for retail groceries and industrial customers.

The company benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic as restaurants shut down and people spent more time and money at grocery stores. TreeHouse reported net profits of $13.8 million in 2020 compared to a loss of $361 million the year before, according to the company’s fourth quarter earnings report.

Net sales for the fourth quarter were up by 4% year over year, primarily due to increased retail demand as a result of the pandemic, the company reported.

Watermanbegan her career in private practice with Gardere Wynne Sewell and Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Kristy is an excellent fit for the organization,” said TreeHouse CEO and President Steve Oakland in the statement. “We look forward to her strong contributions.”

Waterman’s predecessor O’Neill will focus on TreeHouse’s ongoing litigation with coffee company Keurig Green Mountain Inc. in his new role as a consultant for the company.

TreeHouse sued Keurig in 2014 over alleged anticompetitive behaviors, which helped Keurig gain control over “every aspect of the Keurig Compatible Cup Market,” according to the class action complaint. TreeHouse subsidiary Sturm Foods Inc. produces its own brand of single-serve coffee pods.

(Adds information about Dean Foods and TreeHouse Foods in paragraphs two and four and a comment from Waterman in paragraph three. )

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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