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Premium Brands CEO Fred Knoedler, 62

Fred Knoedler, who as CEO of what’s now Premium Brands oversaw the company’s move out of meat packing and into specialty foods, died last week of cancer in White Rock, B.C.

Knoedler, whose profile at BusinessWeek magazine’s website listed his age as 62, had worked for Vancouver-based Premium Brands Income Fund and its predecessor companies for 45 years, the company said in a release Friday.

Company president George Paleologou has been named its acting CEO, the income trust said Friday.

“During Mr. Knoedler’s tenure as CEO Premium Brands underwent a significant transformation from a small commodity based meat processor to one of Canada’s leading specialty food manufacturing and distribution businesses,” the company said in its release.

The company, known until 2000 as Fletcher’s Fine Foods, converted to an income trust in 2005. Quebec packer Olymel paid $90 million in 2001 to buy Premium Brands’ pork plant at Red Deer, Alta.

The income trust’s current roster of brands includes Grimm’s, Harvest, McSweeney’s, Bread Garden, Hygaard, Hempler’s, Quality Fresh Foods, Gloria’s Fresh, Harlan’s and Centennial Foodservice.

Knoedler had been involved with several industry organizations including the B.C. Food Processors Association, mostly recently as chairman of its meat industry committee.

According to that association’s web site, Knoedler emigrated from Germany to Canada in 1959 and began working with Fletcher’s as a labourer.

During his time as CEO, he also chaired Community Pork Ventures, a hog production organization that went into receivership in 2005 and was later bought by Saskatchewan’s Big Sky Pork. Knoedler also served as a director for Food Processors of Canada, was a professional member of Canadian Food Science and Technology and served on the advisory council for the Investment Agriculture Foundation.

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