Chief among the past year’s landmarks is Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury, which has sent shockwaves through the lists.
All who feature on the following pages owe their power to tenacity, vision and strategic smarts. And one should thank the power of his right foot.
1. Irene Rosenfeld (new entry); CEO, Kraft Foods
She's based in Illinois. And the business is essentially run out of Zurich, under Mike Clarke. But an audacious bid for Cadbury puts Rosenfeld at the top of the tree.
A year ago she was the boss of a low-growth US-centric conglomerate and, with the exception of Kenco and Philadelphia, Kraft's products were little known in the UK.
Now Rosenfeld is the proud owner of Cadbury, having spearheaded one of the most audacious takeover bids in living memory. The implications of this are already being felt, not only in the decision to close Somerdale, but with the UK business now essentially run out of Zurich, Kraft's Cheltenham office shutting, and Bournville becoming the centre of Kraft's global confectionery operations.
The year ahead will be key. Having got her deal away against the protests of investors as influential as billionaire Warren Buffett, Rosenfeld has to prove Cadbury can deliver for Kraft, even though, in the UK at least, chocolate confectionery is declining and Cadbury's Trident gum has failed to capture the public's imagination.
Even if we can safely dismiss dotty suggestions in the media that Rosenfeld's plan for Cadbury involves killing off the Cadbury brand to plug Kraft's Milka, the job is going to involve some unpopular decisions. Keeping the workforce sweet, continuing Cadbury's solid record of innovation, delivering the massive cost savings needed to make the deal pay, while growing the business in developing markets, all without the aid of the majority of Cadbury's senior executive team, is no cakewalk.
Rivals Nestlé and Mars-Wrigley are furiously trying to work out how to exploit the uncertainty the upheaval is bound to create.
2. Bart Becht (last year: 3); CEO, Reckitt Benckiser
Bart Becht might be the only man in the world to make £90m a year on the back of heroin addicts and be hailed a hero by both the City and the philanthropy movement.
Reckitt Benckiser's heroin-replacement drug Suboxone has been instrumental in RB's success in the past few years. Becht has delivered astonishingly consistent results that justify his status as the best-paid CEO in the FTSE 100. Keeping up this astonishing track record might not prove straightforward now that Suboxone has come off licence and its exclusivity is threatened. And how much more can RB do to improve its laundry products?
3. Stuart MacFarlane (last year: 1); president, AB InBev
MacFarlane may rage over excessive duty hikes but such pressures have failed to dent AB InBev's sales. If anything, MacFarlane has strengthened his position, reinvigorating Stella and boosting Budweiser volumes.
As sponsor of the World Cup, and with supermarkets falling over themselves to foot the bill for promotions on his brands, a sizzling summer looks assured, and MacFarlane is following it up with the launch of Bud 66 in August a premium, 4% abv sweeter-flavoured lager targeting 20-somethings. In the meantime, he is rumoured to be selling off the ales: Bass, Boddingtons and Flowers.
4. James Quincey (new entry); president, Northwest Europe & Nordics business unit, Coca-Cola
Soft drink isn't an easy place to operate: the EU and US markets are saturated to bursting point, but operating out of London, the highly rated Quincey has been instrumental in helping Coca-Cola widen the gap on arch-rival Pepsi, and is fancied to succeed Dominique Reiniche as president of Western Europe.
One definite feather in Quincey's cap was persuading the Innocent Drinks boys to come on board, taking an 18% stake just six months into the job last year, and he increased Coke's stake to 58% last month. This leaves Coca-Cola the dominant player in a market arch-rival Pepsi was forced to exit just a year ago. Nice.
5. Paul Polman (new entry); CEO, Unilever
The fortunes of Unilever in the UK have been revived, in the last 18 months, by the work of 'Drastic' Dave Lewis, who shook things up, overseeing both the move to Leatherhead but, more significantly, an acceleration in the restructuring of the business, resulting in middle management job cuts, and cleaner, quicker decision-making lines.
The result was a far more effective response to P&G in the laundry category, a surge in sales of Ben & Jerry's and, in the surprise of the year, a Marco Pierre-White-inspired hit for Knorr Stock Pots. But Lewis' talents have been recognised by Polman in his promotion to the main board while taking on responsibility for the Americas. And with UK operations controlled by Amanda Sourry it's introduced a little uncertainty.
6. Paul Walsh (last year: 8); CEO, Diageo
Walsh has had to take tough and unpopular decisions in the last year, closing the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas distilleries. But, importantly, Walsh has delivered another powerful set of results, with profits up 36% to £2.3bn. Innovation also continues, with last June's launch of Smirnoff Flavours particularly impressive, and the ready-to-drink market is also growing fast.
The wine division, Percy Fox, is also in fine form, acquiring UK distribution rights for fast-growing wines Yellow Tail (February 2010) and Arniston Bay (August 2009). Britain's biggest wine brand, Blossom Hill, has meanwhile seen sales soar. Guinness also celebrated its 250th birthday last year with a new strapline 'Bring it to Life' and range extensions may follow, with Guinness Black Lager trialled in Northern Ireland.
7. Paul Grimwood (last year: 16); CEO, Nestlé UK
A graphic Greenpeace viral ad campaign, featuring the bloody finger of an orang-utan in a Kit Kat bar, couldn't stop sales of Nestlé's No1 countline storming ahead. And the handling of Nescafé, backed by a record £43m ad spend and the return of the Gold Blend couple, marks an increased confidence under Grimwood.
Buxton water sales have picked up. Randoms continues to flourish. Grimwood's hand has also been strengthened, at least in the short term, as Kraft digests Cadbury. He has pledged to grow Nestlé's share in the UK confectionery market by 10 to 20 basis points each year.
8. Richard Evans (new entry); president, PepsiCo UK
Under new leadership, PepsiCo continues to handle the Walkers crisps brand with huge aplomb. Evans is hoping new flavours, introduced for the World Cup, will follow up on the success of last year's brilliant Do Us a Flavour campaign, while PepsiCo's meal deals strategy has set the bar. And Red Sky looks like the perfect complement.
The worry must be over the juice portfolio, though. Tropicana sales have slowed, while costs are rising. All eyes are now on the roll-out of £1bn US sports drink brand Mountain Dew.
9. Mark Allen (last year: 13); chief executive, Dairy Crest
Allen has sounded like a broken record lately. The boss of Britain's largest dairy company has been banging the drum for Dairy Crest's key priorities controlling costs and investing in key brands for 18 months.
Allen has ramped up promotional levels for brands such as Cathedral City, Clover and Frijj, and the result is impressive value, volume and penetration increases. As a result, profits are up 5% to £83.5m in the year to 31 March. It's a far cry from the profit warnings of late 2008. And it's only in the commodity markets that worries persist.
10. Paul Moody (last year: 15); CEO, Britvic
The heavy-metal loving soft drinks boss steered Britvic to within £22m of a billion pounds value last year.
And it wasn't just Andy Murray's lengthy Wimbledon run that inspired Robinsons, Tango, 7UP et al to cancel out the effects of the Big Freeze. Moody has really delivered for PepsiCo, recording strong growth, while "selling more soft drinks at higher prices".
He's also been further manoeuvring Britvic away from a reliance on both Pepsi and the UK/Ireland, with the recent 237m acquisition of French soft drinks group Fruité typical of its strategic intent.
11. John Dunsmore (new entry); CEO, C&C Group
Business remains tricky, but since taking the helm in November 2008 Dunsmore has navigated C&C with impressive skill.
The acquisition of Tennent's lager last September, which included the Scottish and Irish distribution rights to Stella and Budweiser, was followed in November by a neat move on Gaymer Cider, from Constellation Brands, for £45m, giving C&C a cider portfolio and increased production leverage in this growing category in the crucial UK market. In April he also disposed of C&C's spirits business to Wm Grant for the plum price of 300m.
12. Martin Glenn (last year: 10); CEO, Birds Eye Iglo Group
His arch-rival Findus Group might boast David Beckham as a partner, but there's only one Captain Fantastic in the frozen industry.
As much spoken about as he is outspoken, Glenn did his best to excite the faltering volumes in frozen with an impassioned defence of supermarket promotions, extension of the highly successful Bake to Perfection range, while lining up Willem Dafoe as part of Birds Eye's £30m investment in marketing for 2010 25% up on 2009. In a category that continues to be very challenging, Glenn is managing the business to the best of his considerable abilities.
13. Daniel Torras (last year: 14); MD, Japan Tobacco International
Two years into the job, Torras shows no sign of second-season syndrome. He has again taken chunks out of Imperial Tobacco's lead, increasing market share by 2.3% with sales topping £4bn in the UK. Add to this a new, and seemingly less interventionist government, a crackdown on duty evasion, and duty-free sales down in conjunction with the pound, and Torras' stock is rising.
14. Peter Lauritzen (new entry); chief executive, Arla
All eyes are on Arla, with its plans to build the world's largest dairy on the outskirts of London. Aggressively chasing milk volumes, Arla won its first tranche of Sainsbury's business in February at the expense of Dairy Crest, and last year took a slice of Tesco supply from Robert Wiseman. It is also making a strong investment in key brands such as Cravendale, Lurpak and Anchor.
15. Jonathan Warburton (last year: 6); chairman, Warburtons
It's been a tougher year than Britain's biggest bread brand is used to. An aversion to discounting was partly to blame for flat sales, and Warburton will not have enjoyed a u-turn on plans to roll out some 100%-British wheat loaves as Hovis switched its entire portfolio to British. A bold move into bagged snacks, new premium loaves and a schmaltzy £10m TV ad will be used to address that.
16. Peter Thornton (new entry); chief executive, Noble Foods
Under Thornton's leadership Noble Foods has gone from a little-known own-label producer to a dynamic brand-based player. First he revolutionised the commoditised egg sector with the first major, premium, brand the Happy Egg Co in January 2009. A year later, he took the food industry even further by surprise buying Gü, marking a major new direction.
17. Robert Schofield (last year: 12); CEO, Premier Foods
The City doesn't like Schofield, and the latest results from Premier won't haven't changed that. Though the branded side saw an improvement, like-for-like sales overall were down 5.1% year-on-year. Schofield has invested in increased sales firepower. Hovis is back on form. A great job has been done on Loyd Grossman. A lot now rests on improving the ambient cakes and biscuits business, and paying down the debt.
18. Irwin Lee (last year: 17), vice-president and general manager, P&G UK & Ireland
Since Gianni Ciserani moved on, Procter & Gamble has reverted to its habitual bunker, though the recession didn't help. Still, orchestrating a high single-digit growth in sales is no mean feat. As Pringles sales stumbled, Lee ditched Minis and Select to focus on core tubes. Similarly, he's started to address concerns around the priciness of Gillette's new-gen razors, with a bumper 12-pack for £20.
19. Ranjit Boparan (new entry); chief executive, Boparan Group
Not content with owning 2 Sisters, one of the leading chicken processors, Boparan is branching out into fish, in intriguing ways, buying restaurant and fishmonger chain Fishworks, snapping up the Harry Ramsden's restaurant chain in January, followed by seafood specialist Five Star Fish in April. With an estimated £100m fortune, he is not short of cash to continue his spree.
20. Agust Gudmundsson (new entry); CEO, Bakkavör
A year ago, the Icelandic fresh food empire Gudmundsson runs with his brother was facing collapse. Having renegotiated the heavy debt burden, painful restructuring is behind Bakkavör putting it in a surprisingly strong position to influence a consolidating produce sector. But Gudmundsson still faces a probe by the SFO and Icelandic authorities following Iceland's banking collapse.
1. John Fingleton (last year: 2); chief executive, OFT
For long the scourge of the industry, John 'Fingers' Fingleton is poised to see his popularity plumb new depths as the Office of Fair Trading assumes responsibility for the new dedicated supermarket ombudsman.
The Tories' decision to house the new supermarket ombudsman inside the OFT, rather than operating as a standalone body, isn't one that Fingleton particularly welcomed. But it will certainly add to his power, which in the past year has proved more punitive than ever.
In recent months, the OFT has doled out fines totalling £225m the biggest-ever handed out by the competition watchdog to tobacco giants Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher as well as nine retailers for unlawful practices in price-setting of cigarettes.
It has also announced a probe into abuse of market position by Reckitt Benckiser's Gaviscon brand and last autumn launched a major project scrutinising retailers' price advertising, looking specifically at how special offers are advertised.
The results could have significant ramifications for pricing mechanisms where reference prices are used such as 50% off as well as more complex pricing structures such as 3-for-2 offers. Despite its reputation for hard-line judgments, earlier this month the OFT showed its willingness to reconsider evidence by cutting fines it imposed on the dairy industry for price fixing by £40m.
The £116m dished out to processors and supermarkets in 2007 and 2008 was reduced after the OFT deemed there was insufficient evidence in relation to liquid milk in 2002 and value butter in 2003.
And more recently the OFT exercised new powers in assessing whether the collaboration between wholesalers Palmer & Harvey and Makro to form buying group PalMak was anti-competitive. The body gave PalMak the green light, while banning the exchange of certain information. Future proposed alliances might not be so lucky, warn wholesalers.
The newstrade sector, meanwhile, has been given two years to self-regulate after the OFT concluded it did not need to be referred to the Competition Commission in its current state.
2. Andrew Lansley (last year: 4); Secretary of State for Health
Lansley has made a point of involving industry in the formulation of the Tories' obesity strategy. The signs are the Lib Dems are in agreement with the policies set out by the Public Health Commission and taken forward in the Tories' Healthier Nation Green Paper, at the core of which is a responsibility deal whereby industry will be spared further regulation so long as it continues to act voluntarily to improve the health profile of food.
Budget constraints mean Lansley will have to make tough decisions over public health spending cuts. He has previously committed to taking forward Change4Life but in the present climate nothing is untouchable.
Other national public health initiatives will almost certainly be shelved in favour of locally led and funded schemes. The Food Standards Agency will have its wings clipped while expensive quangos such as the Sustainable Development Commission and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition almost certainly face the axe.
3. Wayne Rooney (new entry); striker, Manchester United and England
The form, foot, foul mouth and short fuse of Rooney have a big part to play in the next 12 months. He has the power to drive sales not only of brands he's linked with (such as Coke, Powerade, Tiger Beer and Nike); as the lynchpin of the England team, the further England progress in the World Cup, the greater all grocery sales will be. Based on the impact of the national team's semi-final appearance in Italia 90, if England win, a feelgood factor could be felt for months or even years (though maybe not in Scotland or Wales).
4. Sir Don Curry (new entry); chairman, Better Regulation Executive
If you're supposed to start winding down at 65, no-one's told Sir Don. Rather than scaling back his commitments, the author of the Curry Report and chairman of Waitrose's Leckford estate has taken up the challenge of reducing industry red tape as chair of the Better Regulation Executive.
Anyone who suggested that Sir Don - a favourite of Tony Blair - would be marginalised following the change of government may have been badly mistaken. The word is that David Cameron is also an admirer and it may be only a matter of time before the Tories are calling on him for advice.
5. Caroline Spelman (new entry); Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
As the new Defra minister, Spelman should arguably be higher in our list, but with her department likely to be at the wrong end of swingeing budget cuts, the former National Farmers' Union employee will find it tough to set her own agenda on food and farming issues.
With talk of Defra ceding its green remit to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, she will have a fight on her hands to ensure the productive capabilities of British farmers are not undermined by radical approaches to waste, packaging and emissions.
6. Liz Woodeson (new entry); director of health and wellbeing, Department of Health
If, as expected, nutrition policy is brought inside the Department of Health when the FSA is downsized by the Lib-Cons, civil servant Woodeson, a former journalist and 17-year veteran of the department, will play a key role in taking forward strategy in areas such as nutritional labelling, portion sizing and reformulation.
Woodeson recently became director of health and wellbeing at the DH, succeeding Will Cavendish who was widely praised for creating a unified public health strategy that targeted social, educational and systemic NHS issues as well as food manufacturers. The industry will look to Woodeson to adopt a similarly pragmatic approach.
7. Delia Smith (new entry); celebrity chef
The Delia effect is a well-established phenomenon, but who benefits from it has always been in the lap of the food god(ess). Then Waitrose came knocking and Delia finally pinned her colours to a mast. Her first recipe card, involving English rhubarb, triggered sales equivalent to 14 weeks' worth of rhubarb in one weekend. A thumbs up from Delia remains the food equivalent of CPR and her signing is a massive coup for Mark Price.
8. John Sauven (new entry); chief executive, Greenpeace UK
Its abrasive style is not to everyone's taste, yet time and again Greenpeace forces global suppliers into policy u-turns. Sauven was the driving force behind the recent anti-Nestlé Kit Kat palm oil campaign and is personally responsible for taking the decisions about which companies will be next in the firing line for poor environmental performance, especially on priority issues such as palm oil and deforestation.
9. Harriet Lamb (new entry); chief executive, Fairtrade Foundation
At a time when consumers are meant to be trading morals for value, Fairtrade has burst into the mainstream with fresh endorsements from the likes of Cadbury, Kit Kat and Ben & Jerry's. Lamb must take huge credit for bringing big-name brands into the fold and ensuring ethics remain relevant when other food movements notably organic have regressed in the recession.
10. Tim Smith (last year: 5); chief executive, Food Standards Agency
Two months ago Smith was talking up the prospect of the FSA imposing a fat tax. He'll need to rein in his ambitions. The FSA will remain responsible for policing food safety but its designs on being the driver of health and nutrition policy have been trashed by new Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who intends to scale back a conflicting voice in government.
1. Peter Kiernan (new entry); managing director, Lazard
What do you do after closing the deal of the decade? After seeing through Kraft's successful £12bn bid for Cadbury in February, he was due to turn gamekeeper at the Takeover Panel. This week he pulled out.
The Lazard MD's role in the takeover of Cadbury was even more significant than expected following the sudden death, in November last year, of chairman Bruce Wasserstein, who had been personally overseeing the bid.
Alongside fellow advisors from Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, the former Goldman Sachs man who began his career as an accountant at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co steered the bid through despite opposition from the Cadbury board, employees' unions, British MPs and even some of Kraft's most prominent shareholders.
But even though the deal is signed and sealed and despite Kiernan's standing as an M&A veteran having worked on deals as diverse as Akzo's acquisition of Nobel and Anglo American's purchase of Tarmac for UBS during his 14 years with UBS it's not been all smooth sailing.
Unhappy that Kraft announced the closure of Cadbury's Somerdale factory and the consequent loss of 400 jobs mere days after pledging to save it, the Takeover Panel announced it would investigate the deal.
This became something of a personal embarrassment for Kiernan he was about to become the Takeover Panel's director general, and delayed taking up the position to finish the Cadbury buyout. As a result, there was a real risk Kiernan would be effectively asked to investigate himself. Unsurprisingly his appointment was deferred and this week he announced his decision to pull out of the race altogether.
The appointment would have put Kiernan in an enviable position: not only would he have played a major role in what must be the biggest deal in the UK for many years, he would also have had the chance to scrutinise any would-be successors to his throne. Instead, he will go back to his day job.
The message from the Kraft takeover is clear. This is not a man to be messed with.
2. Andrew Higginson (new entry); chief executive of retailing services, Tesco
As a Tesco stalwart, Higginson may seem an odd choice for the money-men list, but only until you look for a second at the financial empire under his command.
Higginson's new role gives the former finance director responsibility for a division that would be a FTSE-100 company in its own right. And that's before he's even got started.
Tesco's mobile division recently scored a coup by adding the iPhone to its shelves, but it's Tesco's banking division that has most potential: with Tesco lining up the launch of its first current account and mortgage by the end of the year, an 800-strong workforce has been hired in Scotland as the retailer prepares to step into the gap left by the demise of a sizeable chunk of the UK banking sector and Higginson will be leading the charge.
3. Lyndon Lea (last year: 5); co-founder, Lion Capital
The ultimate industry dealmaker, with two decades' experience of the UK food and drink market, Lea has ridden out the worst of the economic storm.
Though the estimated £1.1bn buyout of Young's/Findus, at the top of the market two years ago, exposed Lion Capital to severe pressure, February's sale of Kettle Foods to US group Diamond Foods for $615m has taken the pressure off considerably.
Lea bought Kettle in 2006 for an undisclosed sum, and claimed double-digit sales growth and 30% profits growth each year since the deal. All eyes are now on Lea to see whether he can get Weetabix away. An IPO has been rumoured for simply ages.
4. Karen Cook (new entry); president, Goldman Sachs
Sometimes losing isn't so bad. Just ask Cook, one of Cadbury's principal advisors in its defence against Kraft. While Kiernan et al may have taken the glory, Cook hasn't done so badly. The Cadbury defence secured an 830p-per-share final bid far higher than most analysts expected could be achieved, and netted the advisers a bigger chunk of fees than Lazard. Adding to her power, the City supermum of six has been on Tesco's board since 2004.
5. Steve Coates (last year: 6); managing director, Warburg Pincus
Private equity group Warburg Pincus increased its grip on the UK's fmcg sector this month with its £200m buyout of Poundland and Coates was at the centre of the deal.
Coates, the head of Warburg Pincus' consumer and industrial divisions, already has a seat on the board of the UK's biggest food and drink company, Premier Foods, following a restructure last year. With Poundland in his grasp too, Coates' ascension continues. He may not yet be finished with Premier either.
Just months after grabbing a 15.7% share of Premier in its debt refinancing deal, Warburg Pincus increased its stake to 17.7%. Next year, the agreement preventing Warburg increasing its stake still further expires.
6. David Walker (new entry); head of private equity, Clifford Chance
Complex restructuring and financial re-engineering have helped a number of food and drink companies narrowly avoid calamity. Veteran M&A lawyer Walker facilitates such deals.
Last year, he was Duke Street Capital's key advisor when it was looking to restructure Burton's Foods' debt, after the Jammie Dodgers supplier ran out of cash due to declining sales, spiralling costs, uneventful NPD and recession-led consumer downtrading. Walker helped negotiate a debt-to-equity deal that left owner Duke Street with a sizeable minority stake as bankers Apollo and CIBC took control saving Burton's in the process.
7. Steven Esom (new entry); operating partner, Langholm Capital
The former Waitrose MD and executive director of food for M&S, Esom is one of the most influential business angels for up-and-coming fmcg manufacturers. As operating partner at Langholm Capital, Esom sits on the board of crisp maker Tyrrells and is overseeing the company's latest acquisition, Bart Spices. Meanwhile, his new venture Cogn8 works to plug the funding and execution gap for start-ups and niche, foreign-owned brands.
8. Richard Fleming (new entry); UK head of restructuring, KPMG
Unloading Woolies stores in a commercial property market where prices had fallen through the floor was a walk in the park for Deloitte compared with Fleming's administration of First Quench Group. Fragmented Threshers sites were difficult to sell en masse, forcing Fleming to sell them in small groups or, in many cases, just hand back the keys. Experience of this administration will be invaluable.
9. Sheikh Hamad (last year: 10); Emir, Qatar
After Dubai's public financial misery at the start of 2010, speculation was rife that the financial power of the Gulf States was a spent force but the Qatar Investment Authority, chaired by Sheikh Hamad, proved otherwise. After attempts to grab Sainsbury's, Qatar's entry into UK retail this year was at the premium end: for £1.5bn, Sheikh Hamad is now the proud owner of Harrods.
10. Fabrice Desnos (last year: 1); UK CEO, Euler Hermes
With finance still not flowing to small business, and tax hikes likely, concerns have moved on from the withdrawal of trade credit insurance. But Desnos, UK CEO of the world's largest credit insurer, has said he'll cut cover again if he has to. With fears of sovereign debt defaults, a euro crisis and a double-dip recession, this isn't out of the question.
Read the first half of this year's Power List: Supermarkets, Convenience & Wholesalers