REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. — Pat Brown, founder of Impossible Foods, is stepping down as chief executive officer. He will be succeeded by Peter McGuiness, president and chief operating officer at Chobani, who will take the helm at the plant-based meat company on April 4.
Brown will continue in his role of director at Impossible Foods and will become the company’s chief visionary officer, overseeing research and technology innovation, strategic initiatives and public advocacy.
“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,” Brown said. “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.”
The leadership change comes amid a period of rapid expansion and investment for Impossible Foods but slowing category growth. The company has raised more than $1.2 billion since 2020. Last year it introduced a number of new products, including Impossible chicken nuggets, Impossible pork, Impossible sausage and Impossible meatballs.
Global expansion has been an area of focus, with the company introducing its meat-free products in Australia and New Zealand, along with Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Partnerships with Kroger. Co., Burger King and more also are a part of the company’s growth strategy.
While Impossible Foods posted 85% growth in quarterly retail revenue at the end of 2021, category-wide sales suggest demand for meat alternatives may be levelling off. Data from SPINS show sales of plant-based meat dropped by 0.5% in 2021 after seeing a 46% increase in 2020.
In a blog post announcing the leadership transition, Brown cited the incoming CEO’s experience pushing Chobani into new categories, including plant-based probiotic drinks, oat milks, coffee and more. McGuiness has spent nearly a decade at the yogurt maker, serving as chief marketing and commercial officer as well as chief marketing and brand officer before being promoted to president and COO in September 2020. Prior to joining Chobani, he was CEO of advertising agencies DDB Chicago and Gotham Inc.
“Peter and I will work together to lead Impossible and its long-term strategy, combining our complementary strengths and experience,” Brown said. “Having now spent many hours in conversation with Peter, 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.”