PORTLAND, ORE. — Michael J. Guanella has joined Brazi Bites as chief executive officer.
Mr. Guanella most recently was president of Justin’s and earlier was senior brand manager at Hormel Foods for 11 years. He also has worked as manager of business systems at Wilsons Leather, manager of application services at Tennant Co., manager of systems engineering at Marquette Financial Companies, senior contract analyst at Target and consultant at Deloitte.
He received a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Minnesota — Carlson School of Management.
“This year Brazi Bites has continued its rapid growth, and we knew that bringing on a qualified c.e.o. would be extremely beneficial as we evolve the brand into a better-for-you Latin foods platform,” said Junea Rocha, co-founder of Brazi Bites. “Michael’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the food industry will be instrumental to the continued growth of Brazi Bites. He has an impressive track record of rapidly growing authentic food brands while keeping the company’s culture intact.”
Founded in 2010 by husband-and-wife duo Cameron MacMullin and Junea Rocha, Brazi Bites produces gluten-free Brazilian-style cheese bread. The concept for Brazi Bites is based off Pão de Queijo, a popular Brazilian snack. It is made using tapioca flour, milk, eggs and cheese. The product’s simple and gluten-free ingredients have positioned the company to expand as consumers seek out clean label snacks.
Following Mr. Guanella’s arrival, Ms. Rocha will take over as chief marketing officer, and Mr. MacMullin will continue as chief operating officer.
With 4,554% growth in three years, the company was ranked No. 81 on the Inc. 5000 annual list of “America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies.” Brazi Bites’ product line, which includes four different varieties, is available at more than 6,000 stores in the United States, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Costco, Wegmans, Publix, Target and Safeway.
Earlier this year San Francisco Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Brazi Bites. By partnering with SFEP, Brazi Bites believes it will be able to build around its current strength as a better-for-you brand and expand into other categories.