United Natural Foods, Inc. Names Matt Echols Chief Corporate Affairs Officer; Sandy Douglas Comments
PROVIDENCE, RI - United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) seems to be gearing up for the next era of success. Shortly after naming a new public relations agency of record, the distributor announced it the expansion of its leadership ring with the newly created role of Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. Matt Echols, who most recently served as Global Vice President for Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company, will officially take over the role on March 1, 2022.
“In this time of industry and social change, I am excited to join the UNFI team and bring these important functions together to proactively engage with our associates, customers, communities, and shareholders,” said Echols. “UNFI has a compelling growth story with an impressive history of community impact to go with it.”
UNFI’s corporate communications and engagement, government affairs, and environmental and social impact teams will come together as one team and report to Echols, according to a press release. Echols will report to Sandy Douglas, UNFI’s Chief Executive Officer.
“As we continue our journey to improve the way we serve existing and future customers, we know we need stronger and fully integrated capabilities across Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Communications, and Public Policy. This new role reflects our belief in the value created for UNFI’s customers, suppliers, associates, and other stakeholders through these critical areas,” said Douglas. “Matt is a seasoned senior executive with the business acumen and subject matter expertise to lead our integrated approach. He will be a valuable member of our executive leadership team.”
Prior to joining UNFI’s executive ring, Echols spent 24 years at The Coca-Cola Company, occupying various roles including Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability for North America from 2015 to 2019. From 2019 to 2021, Echols occupied a similar position in the Asia Pacific based in Singapore, where he also spearheaded the company’s signature packaging initiative in the region called World Without Waste.
Before joining Coca-Cola, Echols worked for several members of the U.S. Congress from his home state of Georgia, including U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who was a long-time member of the House Agriculture Committee and later Chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He also holds a master’s degree in Marketing Communications from Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Georgia.
Congratulations to Echols on taking on this newly created position! We here at ANUK will keep a close watch to see how it leads to further growth for the distribution titan.