Who are the Food Industry's 10 Highest-Paid CEOs?

These titans of industry are raking it in

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz earned $17,242,507 last year.

The chief executive officer, or the CEO, is at the top of a company’s food chain, and is oftentimes the highest-paid person on the company payroll. At a successful company, the CEO can seriously rake it in, so we decided to take a look and see what the head honchos at some of the biggest food companies are making. Sure enough, their salaries are astronomical.

Who are the Food Industry's 10 Highest-Paid CEOs? (Slideshow)

The individual responsibilities of CEOs vary from company to company, but in all cases they report directly to the board of directors, and when it comes to responsibility for the company’s successes or failures, the buck stops with them. CEOs are responsible for setting the strategy and overall vision of a company, and the direction to take the company in. They decide which new markets to enter, which partnerships to form, and who needs to be hired in order to get it done. They also build the company’s culture, make new hires and fire those who aren’t performing, and set budgets.

Because a CEO can make or break a company, hiring the right one is a tricky, and expensive, process.  A great CEO is the best asset a company can have, and for that reason they’re in high demand. If a CEO has a proven track record of helping companies succeed, then he or she can command multi-million dollar salaries, and might find that several different companies will compete with each other, offering sky-high salaries and perks like company stock in order to woo a prized candidate.

The high salary of the CEO is often in stark contrast to meager salaries of the employees, and this tension comes to the surface in the food industry more than any other. For example, last year Nerdwallet figured out that a McDonald’s employee would need to work 3.86 months of overtime straight just to make what the CEO earns in one hour. Second, while the federal minimum wage of $7.25 has remained unchanged for the past five years, CEO compensation has increased by a whopping 109 percent.

While the base salaries hat CEOs make is quite generous, it’s the stock awards and other incentives that really boosts their take-home pay. Take Denise Morrison, the CEO of Campbell’s, for example. Her base salary in 2013 was $991,667, but after stock awards, non-equity incentive plan compensation, change in pension value, and deferred compensation earnings, and “all other compensation,” she took home a total of $8,708,442, according to the AFL-CIO.

According to the AFL-CIO, the highest-paid CEO of 2013 was Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who raked in $78,440,657, followed closely by Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk. While the highest-paid food company CEOs’ salaries don’t quite reach into that level of the stratosphere, they’re still astronomically large. Read on to learn who the 10 highest-paid CEOs in the food world are, and just how much they’re making.

10) Gary Rodkin, ConAgra

This Omaha-based packaged foods company makes and sells foods for supermarkets, restaurants, and food service establishments. Their brands include Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Wesson oil, Swiss Miss, Reddi-Whip, PAM, and Hebrew National. The company’s CEO, Gary Rodkin, took home $10,711,785 last year.

9) C. Larry Pope, Smithfield

The United States’ largest pork processor was founded in 1936, and today it raises 15 million pigs annually and processes 27 million, producing more than 6 billion pounds of pork. Its president and CEO, C. Larry Pope, made $10,778,390 in 2013.

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