BRIEF: Motif hires agrifood industry veteran from Kraft Heinz, PepsiCo, DuPont as CTO

October 7, 2019

Motif FoodWorks, the microbe-based food ingredients company that spun out of Ginkgo Bioworks, has hired a new chief technology officer. Michael Leonard has a CV teaming with senior food industry experience over a 16-year career including time at Kraft Heinz, PepsiCo and DuPont.

Motif is putting a lot of its focus on the animal-free alternatives space.

“People are changing the way they think about food, and animal-free alternatives are increasingly top of mind for consumers,” said Leonard in a press statement. “Motif is paving the path forward for more functional, nutritional and sustainable ingredients and we’re just getting started. I’m excited to lead Motif’s technology efforts—rooted in fundamental food science and driven by a consumer-focused mindset— to shape the future of food.”

Leonard was head of R&D for White Space Innovation and Commercialization at Kraft Heinz, where he “reshaped the company’s product portfolio to better suit evolving consumer preferences in developed and emerging markets,” according to the release. Before that, he was vice president of Process Technology for Global Snack R&D at PepsiCo, including bringing those more-ish Doritos chips to China. He also worked at agribusiness behemoth DuPont in its nutrition and health department.

The hire comes a few weeks after Motif raised $27.5 million in additional funding from global growth equity firm General Atlantic and CPT Capital following its $90 million blockbuster Series A in February. It’s the latest senior hire after bringing on Janet Collins as head of Regulatory, Government and Industry Affairs recently and coincides with hiring chief people officer Elizabeth King.


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