Meadow Foods Chantler and Tugnait

Source: Meadow Foods 

Tugnait joins Chester-based Meadow Foods in April and will replace Mark Chantler – who takes a seat on the board

Dairy and plant-based ingredients supplier Meadow Foods has appointed Sysco Specialty Group CEO Raj Tugnait as its new chief executive.

Tugnait will join Chester-based Meadow Foods in April, becoming CEO in May. He will replace the company’s current boss Mark Chantler – who will remain a “key part of the leadership team with a seat on the board as a non-executive director and a significant shareholder”.

Chantler, the son of Meadow Foods co-founder Simon, took the helm of Meadow Foods in 2011. He oversaw a pivot by the business from a dairy processor to an added-value ingredient specialist, attracting private equity investment from Paine Schwartz Partners in 2016 and Exponent in 2018.

Under Chantler’s leadership, the business also expanded into plant-based and acquired companies such as Roil Foods, Fayrefield Liquids and Nimbus Foods in recent years.

Tugnait boasts more than three decades of senior experience in the food sector and took over at the helm of wholesaler Sysco Speciality Group – a division of US services giant and Brakes owner Sysco – in April 2020.

He started his career within  “an entrepreneurial family business” before moving to the now Sysco-owned Country Choice in 1998, followed by Brakes Group, where it was said he delivered growth in volume, profit and market share. He was appointed CEO of Sysco’s Fresh Direct Group in Sept 2016.

Tugnait has also spent 12 years on operating boards under two PE ownerships (CD&R and Bain capital) and was a part of two successful exits for his shareholders, Meadow Foods said.

“I feel immensely privileged to have led Meadow Foods in its transition from a family dairy business to the market-leading ingredients business we have today,” Chantler said.

“The business now incorporates six divisions across four sites, 450 employees, 350 active customers and thousands of suppliers,” he added.  

“Meadow Foods is stronger, more diverse and more financially secure than ever before and we feel now is the time for an experienced and entrepreneurial operator to lead us through this next phase of growth,” Chantler said. “I look forward to working with Exponent, Raj and the executive team.”

After a total of 23 years within companies now owned by the wider Sysco Group, Tugnait said the “excitement of applying my skills and working with a talented team to take Meadow to even greater success is the ­reason for me joining”.

Meadow Foods had “excellent fundamentals and a plan for growth accompanied by a strong and aligned team focussed on innovation, quality, sustainability and continuous improvement and I look forward to taking over from Mark in May”, he added.