United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has named veteran CPG executive Mario Maffie as chief information officer, filling a position left vacant last fall when the grocery retailer and wholesaler’s previous CIO departed.
Maffie, who served most recently as corporate chief information officer for food producer Mars, will oversee UNFI’s information technology group and network systems integration projects and “help accelerate the use of data and insights in support of UNFI’s customers and suppliers,” the company said Thursday in a press release. He will report to UNFI Chief Operating Officer Erin Horvath.
Maffie replaces former UNFI CIO Jack Clare, who joined the company in March 2020. Clare left UNFI in November 2022 “to pursue other opportunities,” a spokesperson said in an email. UNFI Chief Technology Officer Santhosh Kumar has served as interim head of information technology for the company since Clare’s departure, according to the spokesperson.
UNFI is bringing Maffie onto its leadership team as the company tries to reverse a sharp profitability skid during the past two quarters that CEO Sandy Douglas has attributed in part to outdated forecasting technology.
The company indicated in the press release that it will be looking to Maffie to play a key role as it works to improve its ability to use data to guide decision-making.
“Our Information Technology team, the backbone of our operations, is currently engaged in network and systems integration work that is critical to the success of our business and the Transformation we have undertaken,” Horvath said in a statement. “We’re excited for Mario to join our team and look forward to the positive contributions he will make in this leadership position.”
During 24 years at Mars, Maffie held a series of technology-related roles, culminating in his appointment as corporate CIO in 2018, according to the press release. He led Mars’ global rollout of predictive artificial intelligence-based financial performance products and was part of the group that integrated Mars and Wrigley following their 2008 merger agreement.