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Daiya Foods shakes up executive team

Hajime Fujita replaces Michael Watt as CEO
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Former Daiya Foods CEO Michael Watt has left the company after four years in that role

Burnaby-based Daiya Foods has shaken up its management team, bringing in Hajime Fujita as CEO to replace Michael Watt.

“After four years of dedicated service, both the board of directors and Michael Watt agree that the time is right to appoint a new CEO," Daiya Foods said in a statement to respond to BIV's query about whether Watt was still with the company. 

The statement praised Watt for "leading the company through the pandemic and overseeing the development of Daiya's state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.”

Daiya Foods has the largest footprint among plant-based food manufacturers in B.C. thanks to it spending tens of millions of dollars during the pandemic to rebuild what had been a nearly 400,000-square-foot Brick furniture warehouse at 3100 Production Way in Burnaby. 

“It’s actually the largest of its kind in North America,” Watt told BIV earlier this year. “We’ve completely transformed the building and it includes not just production, but our headquarters, and a world-class innovation centre, as we create the future of plant-based foods.”

Daiya previously operated out of a building at 2768 Rupert Street, which was about one-tenth the size.

Fujita has more than 17 years of global experience in business and financial planning throughout the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region, according to Diaya Foods. 

"He joins from Daiya's parent company, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, where he held the role of vice-president, business planning," Daiya said in a news release.

"Fujita was a key player in Otsuka's acquisition of Daiya in 2017 before joining Daiya himself and serving as director, financial planning and analysis from 2018 to 2021."

After that, Fujita sat on Daiya Foods' board of directors as part of his vice-presidential role at Otsuka America.

Daiya Foods said Fujita played a lead role in developing Daiya's manufacturing facility and office building in Burnaby.

Other executive moves at the company include Melanie Domer moving to be the company's chief commercial officer, after serving as its chief marketing officer for less than a year. John Kelly has moved into the role of chief marketing officer. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

twitter.com/GlenKorstrom

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