Tracy Wang in Star Tribune

Jeffrey L. Harmening, who joined General Mills 23 years ago as a marketer, on Wednesday was named chief executive, taking the lead of one of Minnesota’s economic powerhouses at a challenging time for both the company and the food industry.

He succeeds Ken Powell, who has been CEO and chairman since 2007. Powell will remain chairman until his retirement, likely next year.

Harmening’s familiar presence within General Mills will help smooth the transition. But he steps into the role at a tumultuous time as the industry consolidates and consumer tastes shift to foods that are less processed than many of General Mills products.

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