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Exclusive-Impossible Foods appoints former Chobani exec as top chef

Impossible Foods chief executive Pat Brown poses in front of a flame grill preparing his plant-based patties at a facility in Redwood City
FILE PHOTO: Impossible Foods Chief Executive Pat Brown poses in front of a flame grill cooking his plant-based patties at a facility in Redwood City, California, on March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jane Lanhee Lee

March 17, 2022

By Nivedita Balu and Praveen Paramasivam

(Reuters) – Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown is set to step down as chief executive, handing over the reins to Peter McGuinness, former chief operating officer of Greek yogurt maker Chobani, as the alternative meat maker expands rapidly and brings new products to the market market brings.

Brown, who founded the plant-based burger maker in 2011, will remain a director and take on the title of chief visionary officer to focus on research and technology and new initiatives, the company told Reuters.

McGuinness is tasked with leading the company at a time when the plant-based meat sector is facing a slowdown in demand following an investment frenzy in recent years and the launches of major fast-food chains Burger King and McDonald’s.

McGuinness, which takes over on April 4, plans to announce new product launches and make the company’s products available in more retail outlets.

“We just need more people trying,” McGuinness said in an interview, adding that he was “very optimistic” about the plant meat sector.

“We’ve got more work to do on the distribution side… We could easily triple, if not quadruple, the retail distribution footprint[in the United States].”

Impossible’s plans to launch new products and expand globally, coupled with the brand’s momentum, mean that “the leadership demands of commercial business will inevitably continue to grow,” Brown wrote Thursday in a blog post confirming the leadership change.

Impossible has launched a slew of products over the past year, including imitation chicken nuggets, sausages and meatballs, to boost demand for its products. The company announced that its quarterly retail revenue increased 85% year over year at the end of 2021.

However, rivals Maple Leaf Foods and Beyond Meat raised concerns about demand in their most recent quarterly results.

Reuters reported last year that Redwood City, Calif.-based Impossible is reviewing options for an IPO valued at $10 billion or more.

McGuinness said there is no urgency as the company has enough capital to fuel its growth.

At Chobani, McGuinness also served as company president and was responsible for research and development and the company’s expansion into new categories such as plant-based probiotic drinks, oat milk and coffee.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru, Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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DUSTIN JONES

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