Kraft Foods Group Inc appointed Chairman John Cahill as chief executive to succeed Tony Vernon, who has headed the company since it was spun off from Mondelez International Inc in October 2012.
Kraft's shares rose 3 percent to $61.38 in early trading.
Cahill, who will remain chairman, formerly worked at PepsiCo Inc and served as CEO of Pepsi Bottling Group Inc.
He joined Kraft in 2012 as executive chairman designate of the company's North American grocery division and was appointed executive chairman when the company was spun off.
Kraft said Vernon will retire as CEO on Dec. 27 but will remain a director until the company's next annual meeting in 2015. He will also stay on as an adviser until March 31.
"The company is on track to deliver full-year results consistent with our previous expectations, despite what continues to be a challenging industry environment," Vernon said.
Kraft, maker of Velveeta cheese and Jell-O desserts, reported in October an 11 percent drop in third-quarter profit as price hikes aimed at making up for higher commodity costs hit demand.
However, the company said it expected "strong growth" in the current quarter.
Up to Wednesday's close of $59.56, Kraft's shares had risen more than 10 percent this year. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)