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CEO Forum: Rosenfeld keeps Kraft from being too cheesy

USA TODAY reports on CEO Forum held in conjunction with Fuqua School of Business.

The following is an excerpt from USA TODAY.

December 12, 2008

DURHAM, N.C. –- People have to eat, even in a recession. So you might think that Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld has a cushy gig selling some of the world's most iconic packaged comfort foods.

Kraft says that 99% of the nation's homes have at least one of its products, which include Oreos, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Ritz crackers, Kool-Aid, Maxwell House coffee, Oscar Mayer lunch meats and DiGiorno pizza.

But since 2006 — when she landed the top job at Kraft after its spinoff from Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) — Rosenfeld, 55, has struggled to reinvigorate a giant that was losing market share at a time of rising costs.

One of just 12 female CEOs at the top 500 corporations, the 27-year food-industry veteran made innovation a top priority. She introduced products including Bagel-fuls (a frozen bagel prefilled with cream cheese) and Oreo Cakesters (a soft version of the classic cookie), while selling sleepier lines including Post cereals.

Rosenfeld shared her thoughts about her company, the economy and leadership with USA TODAY's David Lieberman at the ninth USA TODAY CEO Forum in conjunction with Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

The interview took place in front of an audience. For full story and interview, visit the USA TODAY Web site.