Peter McGuinness Named Impossible Foods CEO

Lisa Johnston
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Peter McGuiness
Peter McGuiness

Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown is stepping down as CEO, with former Chobani president and COO Peter McGuiness taking his place.

Announced on a company blog post on Impossible Foods’ website, Brown said the plant-based food company’s growth and the accompanying demands have increasingly impeded the time he has to focus on strategic initiatives, research and technology innovation, and public communication efforts for the company.

“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 noted.

McGuiness, who will assume the new role April 4, will report to the Impossible Foods board of directors, while Brown will retain the founder and director titles and take on the new title of chief visionary officer. The pair will work together on the company’s long-term strategy, said Brown.  

McGuiness, who is a previous CGTCMO of the Year Award winner and a member of the Path to Purchase Institute Hall of Fame,  got his start at the McCann advertising agency and later served as the president and CEO of DDB Chicago. He spent nearly a decade in total at Chobani in such roles as chief marketing and commercial officer and chief brand officer, taking on the president/COO title in 2019.

During his time at Chobani, McGuiness made breaking down silos between divisions in the yogurt company a core priority of his strategy, particular between the sales and marketing departments. As part of this, he developed a “Demand Department” to consolidate sales, marketing, research, advertising, insights, PR, and other functions.

Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods has been a leader in the plant-based category, which could make up to 7.7% of the global protein market by 2030, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, with a value of more than $162 billion. The firm forecasts an evolution in consumer habits over the next decade as familiarity with plant-based products and initiatives increases, and Impossible Foods has been expanding to seize this momentum: Impossible Foods products could be found in about 150 grocery stores in 2020 and were up to around 17,000 just one year later. Production grew six-fold from 2019 to 2021.

In addition to selling through retail stores and foodservice, as well as developing new products for retailers’ private-label brands, the company entered the direct-to-consumer space in 2020 — a strategy executives said had been in discussion since the company’s founding.

Impossible Foods also last year brought on Apple exec Steve Turner as its first chief experience officer to help raise brand awareness, and among McGuiness’ plans in his new role include new launches and increasing availability at retail, according to Reuters.

"We have more work to do on the distribution side,” McGuiness told Reuters. “We could easily triple, if not, quadruple the distribution points (in the United States) at retail.”

The Redwood City, Calif.-based company has been rumored to be preparing to go public — a move Brown said a few months ago that he’s certain will happen, calling it “inevitable.”

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