PHOENIX — Elizabeth Avery doesn’t like to waste time or money. And balance is important to her, too, creating a good mix of people and businesses at SNAC International, the organization she’s led for the last five years, so that everyone has a seat at the table.
Those priorities have been part of her goals as president and chief executive officer of SNAC. She reflected on the job recently as she prepares to retire and pass the job responsibilities this week to her successor, Christine Cochran, at SNX, SNAC’s new education and collaboration forum being held March 27-29 in Phoenix.
“When I came in, I really wanted to make sure that any time we had a meeting that we were laser-focused on a return on invested time,” Ms. Avery said. “I think I was able to elevate our education programs and bring in really consistently high-quality speakers that gave back a lot to those who spent the time with us.”
She said she is thrilled with the speakers at SNX, which include Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, and Rohan Oza, a guest judge on television’s “Shark Tank” and co-founder and managing partner of Cavu Ventures, who will be involved in the event’s SNAC Tank pitch competition.
SNAC offers a variety of training to its members, including technical resources, webinars and the Emerging Leaders Program aimed at helping rising stars in the snack industry.
Making sure to include a variety of people at SNAC is another top priority for Ms. Avery, including getting more women involved in SNAC through the Women in Snacks (WinS) program that launched in 2018 as well as people of color.
“When we talk about diversity, it’s not just about the programs we’ve been running around gender and race but diversity of voices in the category, keeping pace with the rate of change in the category,” she said.
That means including not only employees and leaders of the more traditional large and mid-sized snack companies on SNAC’s board of directors, but those from startups as well that are pushing out the category in exciting new ways.
“I love seeing how the pulses, lentils, chickpeas and so forth, ancient grains, quinoa have found their way into snacks,” she said. “And not just as something to build a little bit of excitement but entire snack brands are built on that platform. And at the same time, the big stars — the potato chips, tortilla chips, corn chips have continued to do well. There is a sense of a rising tide has lifted all boats. We don’t have categories losing when others are winning. They’re all winning, just at different rates.”
Ms. Avery is happy with the progress she’s seen and been a part of over the last few years, not only at SNAC but as part of the snack industry as a whole.
“This industry and this association have a big place in my heart,” she said. “It’s a place I care about deeply and an industry that I care about, and I’ve been so gratified to see it grow and change a lot during my tenure.”