May 3 (Reuters) - Cheerios cereal maker General Mills Inc said its Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Harmening will take over as chief executive from Ken Powell, who will retire next year.
Harmening, 50, has been with General Mills since 1994 and was named COO in July last year.
During his tenure as head of the U.S. retail business, the company bought organic foods maker Annie's in 2014, turning General Mills into one of the biggest makers of organic food in the country.
The brand still represents one of the biggest growth drivers for the company, which has reported falling sales for almost two years.
General Mills, like its competitors ConAgra Brands Inc and Campbell Soup Co, has also faced lackluster demand for processed foods as consumer tastes shift toward fresh foods and items seen as healthier.
Powell will continue to be chairman till he retires and Harmening's appointment will be effective June 1, General Mills said. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)