Impossible Foods CFO leaves to become president of AppHarvest

Dive Temporary:

  • AppHarvest, a developer and operator of enormous greenhouse farms, employed Inconceivable Meals’ CFO David Lee to grow to be its president, the corporate said in a statement. He’ll begin in his new function on Jan. 25.
  • Within the newly created function, AppHarvest stated Lee will develop technique and lead the gross sales, advertising and finance features on the startup.
  • The addition of Lee to AppHarvest marks a busy yr for the indoor farming operator, which has raised money from investors, opened its first greenhouse and announced plans to go public by merging with a clean examine firm valuing its enterprise at $1 billion.

Dive Perception:

Few sectors within the meals house have been as sizzling because the indoor greenhouse phase in 2020 with several businesses announcing partnerships and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to fund their fast development. AppHarvest was among the many most energetic.

In September 2020, AppHarvest introduced a merger with Novus Capital, a publicly traded particular function acquisition firm that may enable it to go public early this yr — offering $475 million in gross proceeds to assist it develop. Then in October, AppHarvest opened its 2.76 million-square-foot facility in Kentucky, which permits its produce to achieve about 70% of the U.S. inhabitants in in the future’s drive, together with shoppers in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Boston. 

However AppHarvest’s busy and largely profitable 2020 was all completed as a personal firm. The choice to go public will additional open up its funds to the world. Lee’s expertise on the fast-growing Inconceivable Meals will likely be equally helpful for AppHarvest and its aggressive development plans.

Lee has served as Inconceivable’s CFO since December 2015, the place he helped develop the corporate and safe greater than $1.3 billion in funding to speed up manufacturing, product growth and distribution, in accordance with AppHarvest. He additionally labored as COO of Inconceivable from 2015 to 2019, throughout a interval of great transformation for the corporate.

Now, AppHarvest is present process its personal fast transformation. In January, AppHarvest expects to start the primary harvest of tomatoes from the flagship farm in Kentucky. The corporate has two extra amenities under development within the state, with 9 potential initiatives within the pipeline via 2025. Lee is not any stranger to AppHarvest, having served on its board since August 2020, so it ought to be a straightforward transition when he joins the corporate later this month.

Jonathan Webb, the founder and CEO of AppHarvest, stated within the launch that Lee brings a skillset amassed throughout a long time of expertise at Del Monte, Zynga and most not too long ago Inconceivable that may “assist us construct AppHarvest into an iconic model and sustainable meals firm that disrupts conventional agriculture.” Indoor greenhouses are lauded for his or her capability to develop crops all yr spherical, and achieve this with much less soil and water whereas eschewing chemical substances.

For Inconceivable, Lee’s departure on the plant-based powerhouse comes as the corporate stays by itself quick observe regardless of disruptions to the enterprise introduced on by the pandemic.

Inconceivable accelerated growth of its retail and e-commerce companies throughout the outbreak with extra shoppers consuming at dwelling and looking for healthier plant-based options. On the identical time, Inconceivable’s restaurant enterprise, the place its merchandise are present in 33,000 places within the U.S., has slowed.

Lee little doubt has been instrumental in helping Impossible raise money, together with $700 million in 2020 to assist develop the corporate and enter new product classes like milk and pork. He was intricately aware of its enterprise after working at varied high roles for a number of years, so his departure could possibly be a near-term blow for the corporate, although it is unlikely to derail its place as one of many leaders within the fast-growing plant-based meat class.

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