Swander Pace-backed Passport Food Group hires Michael Axelrod as CEO

Passport Food Group, backed by Swander Pace, hired Michael Axelrod as chief executive officer. Most recently he worked as president at TreeHouse Foods, where he oversaw the company’s $1.5 billion condiments division. He also held senior management roles at Kraft, McCain Foods, Whirlpool and Pactiv. Axelrod succeeds John Signorino, who led the company through its acquisition by Swander Pace, which acquired Passport Food Group in April 2017.

Press Release

Passport Food Group, a leading manufacturer and distributor of internationally-flavored foods to foodservice and retail channels across North America, today announced that longtime strategic operations executive Michael Axelrod has been named the company’s new CEO.

Mr. Axelrod brings nearly three decades of experience in and beyond the retail and foodservice industry. He most recently served as a President at TreeHouse Foods, where he oversaw the company’s $1.5 billion Condiments division. He has also held senior management roles at Kraft, McCain Foods, Whirlpool and Pactiv.

“I am looking forward to working alongside the talented team at Passport to continue the company’s amazing growth trajectory,” said Mr. Axelrod. “The company has a fascinating history—from its humble beginnings as local supplier to Asian restaurants to becoming one of North America’s largest distributors of on-trend, innovative cuisines of all types, encompassing both restaurants and retail establishments. I am honored to be a part of this story and am eager to help the company expand its brand and market share across a number of channels.”

“Mike was the ideal candidate to lead Passport into a new phase of growth,” said Heather Smith Thorne, Managing Director at Swander Pace Capital, which acquired Passport Food Group in 2017. “From manufacturing to marketing and distribution, he has a long, successful track record helping companies contain costs, achieve significant growth, and realize greater efficiencies at all levels of the organization.”

She added, “Mike has a deep understanding of the consumer space and has helped many companies profitably adjust their strategies to accommodate changing customer tastes and preferences.”

The appointment of Mr. Axelrod is the latest in a series of additions to Passport’s management team: Terra Jacobs, CFO; Mark Thompson, COO; and Peggy Moll, Head of Human Resources.

Following its purchase last April by Swander Pace, the company aspires to seize on explosive category growth in on-trend international foods, especially among natural, organic and clean-label segments.

Mr. Axelrod succeeds John Signorino, who successfully guided the company through the acquisition by Swander Pace Capital.

About Swander Pace Capital
Swander Pace Capital (SPC) is a private equity firm that invests in companies that are integral to consumers’ lives. SPC’s consumer industry expertise informs the firm’s strategic approach and adds value through access to its proven SPC Playbook, senior team, and extensive network. The firm partners with management teams to help build companies to their full potential. SPC invests in businesses across three domains of consumer lifestyles: Food + Beverage, Body + Wellness, and Home + Family. With offices in San Francisco, New Jersey, and Toronto, SPC has invested in more than 45 companies and raised cumulative equity commitments of approximately $1.8 billion since 1996. For more information, visit www.spcap.com
About Passport Food Group
Headquartered in Southern California, Passport Food Group, Inc. has over 170 employees. Founded in 1978, the company began as a family-owned operation with one machine making authentic noodles for Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles. Today Passport offers over 125 product SKUs across a comprehensive range of authentic, boldly-flavored product categories to food retailers and restaurants around the country.