United Fresh Hires CEO To Unify Potato Industry

Published online: Feb 18, 2005
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Jerry Wright, former president of Embasa Foods, was hired this week as the CEO of the United Fresh Potato Growers of Idaho.

United's Board of Directors said with Wright's track record of successes with a major food group he is the kind of leader that will succeed in helping the Idaho potato industry.

The 53-year-old Wright took six smaller Mexican food companies, rolled them under the Embasa umbrella, and turned a four-year decline in sales into increases of  9 percent," said Board Chairman Albert Wada.

"That kind of performance is not often seen in a mature business like Mexican foods."

Wada says Wright has set a high level of expectations with the record he brings to his new position, but adds, "We expect him to be up to the task, and more importantly, he carries those high expectations himself."

Embasa Foods was later renamed Authentic Specialty Foods. Its flagship brand is La Victoria. It is now a $100 million company that employs 250.

Before leading ASF, Wright worked in brand management positions with such companies as General Mills, H.J. Heniz and Hunt Wesson. He has worked on major brands like Kix and Total cereals, Nature Valley Granola and Peter Pan peanut butter.

'Jerry is going to be the unifying tie for the Idaho potato industry. We've had structures like United in place before, but hiring a man like Jerry Wright as CEO is a step that no one has ever taken before," said United Board member Dave Beesley. "This shows the Idaho industry that we are very serious in our commitment to succeed in leading the industry to a profitable future."

Wright holds a MBA from Brigham Young University and a BS in zoology from BYU.