- January 26, 2021
- Posted by: Stratford Team
- Category: Business
Goya Foods has voted to silence its pro-Trump CEO Robert Unanue following his recent television appearances questioning the results of the presidential election, The Post has learned.
The Hispanic foods giant on Friday agreed to censure Unanue, 67, for controversial remarks in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 invasion of the US Capitol building, including on Jan. 20 when he called Biden’s election “unverified” during an appearance on Fox Business.
The vote by a majority of Goya’s nine-member board means Unanue must now obtain board permission before making any more media appearances, sources close to the situation said.
“Bob does not speak for Goya Foods when he speaks on TV,” Goya board member and third-generation owner Andy Unanue told The Post last week leading up to the vote. “The family has diverse views on politics, but politics is not part of our business. Our political point of views are irrelevant.”
“I think this it is mission accomplished. Mission accomplished by the union, the partnership, the conglomerate of social media, Big Tech, big media and government, big government, for ushering in the dawn of a new world order. This great reset,” Unanue said on Fox Business’ Mornings With Maria. “With an unverified election, and the big prize is the United States.”
Robert Unanue on Monday declined to comment on the vote but acknowledged that he’s having second thoughts about publicizing his political views.
“Independently, I’ve made the decision to lower the temperature and walk away from speaking about politics and religion,” he said. “I realize it’s important because of the diverse views of the company and our market.”
The CEO personally owns less than five percent of the business.
He didn’t fully close the door on speaking out either. “I don’t believe I should speak politically or in a faith-based manner on behalf of the company,” he said. “But I leave open the possibility of speaking on behalf of myself.”
The head of the seller of canned beans and tropical drinks has been at odds with some of his fellow directors since July when he declared that the US was “truly blessed” to have Trump for president.
That led to calls for a boycott of the company — founded in Manhattan in 1936 by immigrants Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina — by people like US Rep. (NY-Dem) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who say Trump has vilified people from Mexico and Latin America.
“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,” the New York congresswoman famously tweeted in response to Unanue’s July 9 remarks.
The boycott was countered by calls for a “buycott” — a movement best represented by Ivanka Trump tweeting a photo of herself holding a can of Goya black beans along with the company’s slogan, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” in English and Spanish.
Goya shareholders have argued internally ever since, with some claiming that their CEO has been costing them sales by alienating many core customers.
“We should be growing more than we are,” a Goya source said. The source said that while Goya sales are up overall due to the pandemic, which has been driving up the sale of canned goods generally, they have fallen since the boycott kicked off in July.
Nielsen data shows sales of Goya beans grew 82 percent — and its rice by 85 percent — for the nine weeks ended June 1, according to publication Food Dive. Sales in recent weeks, by contrast, are up only 10 percent over a year ago, the source said.
Some Goya owners have also asked the board to present a motion to remove Unanue as CEO because he’s been using the company to promote his political views, sources said.
“More than 50 percent of the shareholders do not want Bob to be the CEO,” a Goya source said. “All these political statements that Bob is making is dangerous for the company and for us personally as owners,” this person added.
“It will hurt the Unanue name and company if he continues,” a second Goya source and shareholder said. “He should be thrown out as CEO. I think it’s really hurting us.”
In an interview with The Post last week leading up to Friday’s vote, Unanue acknowledged that his job may be on the line.
“I’m attacked by my own family” he said. “I could be fired tomorrow … whatever. It’s touch and go.”
As The Post exclusively reported last year, Unanue narrowly escaped losing his job when he nixed an effort to sell a minority stake in the company to a private equity investor that would have brought in a non-family member CEO for the first time in the company’s 85 year history.
In the same pre-vote interview, Unanue argued that Goya’s sales are booming, due in part to the “buycott” and his fight against “cancel culture.” “We’ve kept our base and expanded the general market,” he said, referring to Trump supporters.
Last month, he named Rep. Ocasio-Cortez “employee of the month,” saying sales spiked following her calls to boycott the company.
“I believe the Holy Spirit put the word ‘blessed’ on my lips,” Unanue said of his July 9 remarks on the White House lawn that led to the boycott.
Still, he said he was heartened by President Biden’s inaugural address. “I was very thrilled to hear Biden call for unity and prayer. I respect him. I just don’t know if everyone [on the left] agrees with him.”
“If President Biden gets his way, it’s good,” he said.