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Prioritizing Quality Ingredients

An Interview with TJ Rooney, President of Loacker North America
Jana Pijak
January 5th, 2024

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Food, Lifestyle, Market, Regional, World
As the President of Loacker North America, TJ Rooney oversees operations at the company, bringing five years of experience with Loacker and a robust two-decade background at Nabisco/Kraft/Mondelez, with roles in confections, sales, and innovation.

1. Tell us your name and your role at Loacker?

I'm TJ Rooney, and I proudly serve as the President of Loacker North America. With a rich history spanning five years with Loacker, I bring two decades of valuable experience from Nabisco/Kraft/Mondelez. My journey at Mondelez included pivotal roles such as President of Confections, VP of Channel Sales, VP of Global Walmart, VP of Planters Nuts, Sr. Director of Global Snacks Innovation, and Sr. Director of Snacks Innovation.

2. What does innovation mean to you? How do you and your team generate new ideas?

To me, innovation is about providing consumers with something new that fulfills their unmet needs. My team and I thrive on generating the best ideas by actively engaging with consumers and customers. We prioritize open communication to understand their desires and employ quantitative research to identify potential gaps in the market.

3. Do you have any rituals for resetting your team to be creative?

Absolutely! We firmly believe in getting out of the office to gain inspiration. Our team immerses themselves in stores, engaging with shoppers and observing market trends. We also draw insights from diverse categories, such as ice cream, seeking to apply the learning and creativity from different industries to our own innovative processes.

4. Can you speak about Loacker's commitment to ethical sourcing, sustainability, and premium ingredients?

As we approach our 100th anniversary in 2025, Loacker's commitment to excellence has been unwavering since our inception in Northern Italy. Founder Alfons Loacker instilled a dedication to using the highest quality ingredients and fostering long-term relationships with our partners, treating them like family. Our commitment extends to ethical sourcing, sustainability, and ensuring that premium ingredients remain at the core of our offerings.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face when innovating?

The primary challenge lies in building awareness for our new offerings. Loacker has recently introduced some incredible products, like the beloved Tortina Mini, which consumers are just beginning to embrace. Overcoming the hurdle of creating awareness and showcasing the uniqueness of our innovations is an ongoing focus for us.

6. Has there been an instance where another industry inspired innovation at Loacker?

The chocolate category has been a big inspiration, especially with portion control, permissible indulgence, and seasonal offerings. Learning from other industries helps us adapt and bring fresh perspectives to our product development.

7. Looking to the future, how will Loacker continue to be an innovation leader? Are there any exciting launches in the works that you can share with us?

Our commitment to innovation centers around listening to our consumers and customers. Responding to demand, we are thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of Classic Dark Chocolate 45g on-the-go packs in early 2024. This addition is a direct response to the growing popularity of Dark Chocolate, especially in our Quadratini range. By staying attuned to market trends, we maintain our position as an innovation leader in the industry.
References: loacker