Wendy (Jaycox) Davidson ’92 has worked with giants in the food industry throughout her career, moving from Tyson Foods Inc., to McCormick & Company, to Kellogg Company. She’s now president of Kellogg’s U.S. Specialty Channels business unit, which develops and markets food products for food service (schools, healthcare, restaurants, businesses), convenience stores, vending, export, and custom manufacturers.
Davidson translates society’s food interests into what consumers see from food service to retail store shelves. “The industry is always so interesting because consumers not only use food for fuel, but food has such a way of predicting future direction in desire for convenience, health, lifestyle, and flavor,” she says.
One direction the consumer is headed is toward more healthful eating, and Davidson says that Kellogg, which was founded more than 100 years ago by W. K. Kellogg to create wholesome foods (think Corn Flakes), is continually looking for new ways to make its products easily accessible. So what can consumers expect to see in the future? More single-serve containers and packaging with less material, which weighs less, takes up less space, and uses less fuel to transport. The emphasis on less packaging, of course, also mirrors growing interest in sustainability. Also look for snacks and treats that incorporate more whole grains and less sugar and salt.
Davidson’s family—Anders, 15; Brenna, 10; and husband Thor Davidson ’93—have enjoyed the opportunity to taste products before they reach the marketplace. “I bring a variety of our new products home,” she says. Pringles Tortilla chips, which hit Walmart stores in January, got a thumbs-up from the kids last fall.
A sociology and political science major at Luther, Davidson got her start in the food business through an internship at Tyson. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the Women’s Foodservice Forum Board of Directors, which helps advance women in the industry, she is on Luther’s Board of Regents.