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People Moves: The Jackfruit Co. Adds COO; Hirshberg Returns to Stonyfield

Meagan McGinnes

Natural Products Expo West has brought about a slew of new product launches, but it took a host of new faces joining CPG companies to support these investments.

Here is your latest in natural food hiring news.

The Jackfruit Company Brings On New COO

Plant-based brand The Jackfruit Company has brought on 34 Degree’s Wes Brasher as its COO as of last month. Brasher had worked at the crisp company since 2014, first as VP of finance and operations and then as COO since 2016.

In a LinkedIn post announcing his departure, Brasher said leaving 34 Degrees was “bittersweet.”

“This is an incredible group of people, and a great business,” he wrote. “I have been incredibly fortunate and proud to have served both the last 3+ years, so it is incredibly hard to walk away. I am excited for the next (ad)venture, but today I am thinking about the millions of miles and laughs from the last few years.”

Brasher joined the meat alternative brand as it debuted rebranded packaging at Expo West last week.

Impossible Foods Creates In-House Creative Team

As alternative meat maker Impossible Foods readies to enter retail, the company is looking to strengthen its branding strategy with the hiring of Sasha Markova, the company’s first executive creative director.

Markova will lead Impossible Foods’ in-house creative team, which will manage all visual messaging across the brand’s channels, from restaurants and food service to its soon-to-launch retail presence. Prior to Impossible Foods, Markova served as Global Creative Director at advertising agencies Mother London and Mother LA, in which she worked with clients such as Stella Artois.

“Impossible Foods is a new paradigm brand and requires a different way of storytelling,” Markova said in a statement. “The sense of mission that exists at Impossible Foods is powerful and intoxicating. I’m thrilled to be leading the charge in uncovering the most brilliant and contagious ways of communicating that.”

In preparation for its next growth spurt, Impossible Foods has brought on many new faces within the last year. In September 2017, Marcella Butler became Impossible Foods’ first Chief People Officer; in June 2017, Dr. David J. Lipman joined in the newly created role of Chief Science Officer; and in May 2017, Chris Gregg took over as Senior VP of supply chain and manufacturing.

Co-Founder Gary Hirshberg Returns to Stonyfield

Stonyfield Organic’s cofounder Gary Hirshberg has returned to the company in a new, mission-driven role: Chief Organic Optimist.

In this role, Hirshberg will act as a spokesperson for the brand, promoting its “healthy people and a healthy planet” initiatives through new products and partnerships that embody Stonyfield’s “activist spirit.”

“Although we’ve never stopped working for healthy people and a healthy planet, everyone at Stonyfield agrees that the planet needs stronger voices now more than ever,” Hirshberg said in a statement. “Just the daily act of supporting over 1,400 organic family farmers stewarding millions of chemical-free acres and helping tens of millions to enjoy delicious organic foods is meaningful, but in today’s policy and political landscape, all of that is not enough.”

To help spark this change, Hirshberg will work in Stonyfield’s New Hampshire headquarters on several initiatives, including the company’s “Make Earth Cool Again” campaign, which launched this week at Expo West.

Smith Teamaker Names New CEO

Premium tea company Smith Teamaker announced last month that Darren Marshall was hired to be the brand’s new CEO.

Marshall brings with him 25 years of experience in marketing, commercial and general management roles in companies such as the Coca-Cola company. Kim DeMent-Smith, Smith Teamaker co-founder and board member, said she thinks Marshall has what it takes to bring the tea brand to “the next level” during its coming growth phase.

The brand is a portfolio company of NextWorld Evergreen. Managing Partner of NextWorld Evergreen and board member, Sebastien Lepinard, added that he’s “confident that Darren is the right person to build on Smith’s current momentum.”

“He is a seasoned leader who brings tremendous passion and vision,” Lepinard said. “We are lucky to have him as our next CEO.”

Other notable hiring news includes:

  • Bulletproof Adds Execs From Vega & General Mills: To support the its rapid growth, MCT oil coffee and bar brand Bulletproof, the company has brought on new management talent. Patrick Brown, former VP of Vega, has been hired to act as the general manager and VP of grocery Sales, while Keith Bone, who’s worked with brands like General Mills, Frito Lay and Glanbia Nutritionals for over 25 years, has been added as VP of supply chain.
  • KidFresh Announces Board Additions: Michael Allen, formerly of Boulder Brands and Kellogg, has been appointed to the Kidfresh Board of directors. The addition is part of an effort to establish a strong support system as the natural frozen dinner line for children continues to scale. The brand launches gluten-free and organic line extensions at Expo West.
  • Jane’s Dough Has New President: The frozen and refrigerated pizza dough and pizza products company Jane’s Dough, announced last month that Stan Jacot was promoted to president. He previously served as the company’s Executive VP and General Manager.
  • TreeHouse Appoints New CEO: Following the retirement announcement of Sam Reed, Treehouse Foods named Steve Oakland as the company’s CEO, effective March 26. Oakland was most recently vice chair and president of U.S. food and beverage at The J.M. Smucker Company.
  • LoveTheWild Gains Former Whole Foods Exec: Frozen seafood meal kit Love The Wild has brought on Barry Hirsch as its VP of marketing. Hirsch had worked at Whole Food headquarters since 2007, acting most recently as the natural retailer’s global marketing director for brand partnerships and special projects. In this new role, Hirsch will help the brand communicate about its sustainable, “farmed-fish” sourcing practices, in addition to new product innovations, such as its line of microwavable bowls that debuted at Expo West.

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