Impossible Foods, a plant-based company, will have a new CEO starting April 4, when Peter McGuinness takes over from founder Patrick O. Brown. McGuinness brings 30 years of business expertise to Impossible Foods, most recently serving as President and Chief Operating Officer at Chobani, a company well recognized for its yogurt products.
Brown highlighted that the leadership transition at Impossible Foods occurs after a time of rapid expansion. He founded the company in 2011, and while the first five years were spent cracking the molecular code of recreating animal products from plant-based ingredients, the last few years have been focused on getting consumers on board, beginning with the revolutionary Impossible Burger and most recently with Impossible Pork, Impossible Sausage, Impossible Meatballs, and Impossible Chicken Nuggets, all of which were released within the last year.
“As Impossible’s business has grown in size, scale, and complexity, the demands of that business have increasingly encroached on the time I have available to lead strategic initiatives; to communicate our mission to the public and policy-makers; and most importantly, to guide the research and technology innovation that continues to power our long-term success… Given the momentum of our business, our accelerating product pipeline, ongoing international expansion and the magnitude of our mission, the leadership demands of the commercial business will inevitably continue to grow,” Brown wrote.
Brown will continue to serve as a director of the company, but will take on a new role as “Chief Visionary Officer,” which he describes as “to reverse the collapse of global biodiversity and turn back the clock on climate change by inventing and scaling a new technology platform to replace the world’s most destructive technology—the use of animals for food production—by 2035.”
Chobani’s Dairy-Free Yogurt
McGuinness made numerous notable changes at Chobani during his tenure, including upgrading the dairy company’s portfolio with various dairy-free products. Chobani initially entered the vegan yogurt market in early 2019 with the launch of a coconut cream-based product. The company continued to experiment with dairy-free bases that year, launching The World of Chobani Oat platform to complement its current vegan offerings. Chobani has produced a wide range of vegan yogurts, drinks, and creamers under its new sustainability-focused oat brand. Chobani pushed their commitment to sustainability a step further in 2021, repackaging its vegan yogurts in containers composed of 80 percent paperboard to reduce plastic usage.
“Having now spent many hours in conversation with [McGuinness], I and the rest of the Impossible leadership team and our board of directors are excited and confident that he is the right person for this role… He’s committed to our mission, he loves our brand and products, he shares our values, and he’s a proven leader with years of experience leading an innovative and rapidly growing food brand,” Brown wrote.
Executives Joining The Movement
McGuinness’ appointment as CEO of Impossible Foods is part of a larger leadership transition in the plant-based business, which has seen executives from established meat and dairy industries join the company. Last year, Impossible Foods’ main competitor, Beyond Meat, hired two new C-suite executives, Doug Ramsey and Bernie Adcock, who had previously worked for meat behemoth Tyson Foods. Adcock came to Beyond Meat as Chief Supply Chain Officer with 31 years of expertise in operations and supply chain management at Tyson.
Ramsey led Tyson’s poultry and McDonald’s businesses before joining Beyond Meat as COO at a pivotal juncture, just after the vegan brand signed a three-year development contract with McDonald’s. So far, this collaboration has resulted in the debut of the McPlant, a burger created with a Beyond Meat plant-based patty. Last year, McDonald’s tested the meatless burger at eight locations in the United States, and after meeting sales objectives, the McPlant was expanded to 600 sites in February.
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