Impossible Foods named two industry veterans to lead its science and supply operations, which CEO Peter McGuinness said will fill critical roles in the company’s future development.
Sunil Chandran will be Impossible’s new chief science officer, and Rob Haas its chief supply officer.
In an interview, McGuinness said the new hires help Impossible Foods move forward to what he calls a “tech-enabled food company.”
“We’ll innovate like a tech company, but we’ll operate like a food company,” McGuinness said.
Chandran will lead the R&D arm of Impossible Foods, which McGuinness said is a large department with scientists and food developers. He comes from Amyris, a biotech company that specializes in consumer-branded products and food ingredients.
Chandran, who spent 17 years at the biotech company, was most recently its chief science officer and head of R&D. He has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and his LinkedIn profile touts experience in developing technology and leading people. Much of his time at Amyris was devoted to bringing new fermentation-derived ingredients to market.
McGuinness said as Impossible Foods strives to improve all of its offerings by enhancing their taste, texture, flavor and nutrition, it’s important to have a seasoned scientific professional leading the department. Chandran, he said, also is a “proven people developer” who wants to do good and change the world for the better, which fits into Impossible’s larger mission.
As far as Impossible’s supply chain, McGuinness said it is comprehensive, with many moving parts. The company currently has three manufacturing plants — Oakland, California; Chicago and Los Angeles — and sources a variety of ingredients from around the country. The company’s products are shipped to thousands of retail and foodservice customers nationwide.
When McGuinness took over as Impossible’s CEO in April 2022, he said the supply chain at the plant-based meat company was “a little bit siloed and fragmented.” Consolidating the entire supply chain under one leader was a priority, he said.
Haas has experience in running manufacturing and supply chains. He worked at AB InBev and its affiliated companies for more than 20 years. He served as the beverage giant’s global vice president of ingredients, senior global director of engineering and capital expenditures, and as CEO and president of its packaging subsidiary Metal Container Corporation.
Since October 2020, he’s been chief supply officer of EverGrain Ingredients, a startup AB InBev founded to upcycle spent brewing grains into ingredients.
McGuinness said Haas is “also kind of a master in the world of fermentation,” a relevant skill for Impossible Foods, which uses the technology to make the plant-based heme ingredient necessary for its products to taste meatier.
Naming Haas to head the supply chain at Impossible Foods is the last piece in the new structure McGuinness put in place over the supply and demand functions at the company.
In January, McGuinness hired Impossible’s first chief demand officer, Sherene Jagla. She heads the company’s “demand chain” — functions including marketing, sales, insights and product development.
“It’s a simple structure: supply chain, demand chain,” McGuinness said. “And we’re kind of in service of that.”