Originally created by a boilermaker from Bendigo as a sustainable snack you could eat one-handed at the football, the Chiko Roll has grown into an Australian icon. In the 1960s, more than 40 million were sold each year, a remarkable figure considering the Australian population was only around 11 million at the time. Still manufactured in Australia, the Chiko Roll— among many other well-known brands—is now owned by food giant Simplot.

Simplot owns and manufactures the products of other big-name brands such as Birds Eye, Leggo’s, Edgell, Lean Cuisine, and John West. CEO Terry O’Brien has been with the company for 22 years and talked to The CEO Magazine about how the company has used innovation and a focus on Australian manufacturing to overcome difficulties in the food industry in recent years.

The CEO Magazine: What has kept you at Simplot and in the food industry for so long?

Terry: I'’ve been in the food industry combined over 30 years; I'’ve been with Simplot for about 22. Prior to that, I had a stint at Cadbury Schweppes for about nine years. When I joined Simplot, it was under another name— Plumrose Australia— and I was actually headhunted. I thought, ‘I'’ll do a couple of years there, then think about what I’'ll do after that’, and here I am 22 years later. I have to say there’'s never a dull moment in fast-moving consumer goods and certainly never a dull moment in food. We have been on a significant growth trajectory over those years. When I joined Plumrose, the turnover was in the $200-million bracket; today, Simplot is sitting on about $1.6 billion.