Leslie Sims joins Impossible Foods as chief marketing and creative officer. Image credit: Impossible Foods/Business Wire

Movin’ up and out: David Lee & AppHarvest split, Impossible C-suite hires, Keurig Dr. Pepper CEO resigns after 3 months

December 5, 2022

To keep everyone up to speed on the latest people moves in the world of food and ag, AFN publishes a monthly column of the industry’s biggest people moves. This last month, Keurig Dr. Pepper CEO Ozan Dokmecioglu resigned after just three months in charge and struggling CEA company AppHarvest parted ways with its president. In brighter news, Impossible hired two new executives and Cargill got a new CEO.

Are you in a new role or company? Know someone who has left? Drop me a line to share the details: [email protected].


Keurig Dr. Pepper CEO resigns over code of conduct ‘violations’

The latest in C-suite shenanigans involves Ozan Dokmecioglu, who resigned as CEO of Keurig Dr. Pepper “due to violations of the company’s code of conduct,” the company said. He had been in the role for just three months.

Keurig Dr. Pepper is staying mum about what those violations are. Paul S. Michaels, lead director of the Keurig Dr Pepper’s board, merely noted that “Keurig Dr Pepper’s Code of Conduct is built on a foundation of ethics, integrity and personal responsibility. Every employee, without exception, is accountable for knowing and following the Code.”

The company has reappointed former CEO and current executive chairman Bob Gamgort to the helm. Gamgort said that Dokmecioglu’s resignation had nothing to do with “strategy, operations or financial reporting.”

David Lee departs AppHarvest as company flounders

The controlled environment ag company and its now-former president David Leemutually agreed” the later would leave in Nov. Lee joined the company from Impossible Foods in 2021 — when the horizon looked quite a bit brighter for AppHarvest.

In November, AppHarvest told investors it is running out of cash and has only enough runway to continue operations into the first quarter of 2023.

Lee remains on AppHarvest’s Board of Directors.

A changing of the guard at Cargill

Cargill CEO Dave MacLennen‘s resignation is far more mundane. MacLennen, who started at the company in 1991, is now close to Cargill’s customary retirement age, according to the Wall Street Journal

Brian Sikes, Cargill’s current chief operating officer will take over as CEO on Jan. 1. Sikes also began his career at Cargill in 1991 and will be the 10th CEO in 157 years.

MacLennan, meanwhile, will assume the role of executive chair of Cargill’s board.

Two new exec hires for Impossible Foods

Leslie Sims will step into the newly created role of chief marketing and creative officer on Jan. 1. 

According to Food Navigator, Sims’ main job will be to build awareness of both plant-based foods and the Impossible brand — and boosting sales of the latter. That’s no small feat at a time when sales of plant-based meats are sagging and the whole industry is mired in an epic branding catastrophe.

Sims’ resume includes General Mills, Burger King and Macaroni Grill. 

Impossible has also hired a new senior vice president of international.

Noel Clarke will lead the charge when it comes to boosting sales in non-domestic markets. He’s spent the last decade at Unilever and has a special focus in the European market — where Impossible recently launched.

“It is with that steadfast belief; that business can be a force for good, that I join the incredible team at Impossible Foods as SVP International,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “To my new team I am so excited to join you on the mission to make the global food system truly sustainable by eliminating the need to make food from animals.”

Layoffs update

Foodtech and agtech are still getting hit hard when it comes to layoffs. This last month included:

  • Vertical farm startup Infarm is set to lay off more than half of its workforce, around 500 employees.
  • Quick-commerce startup JOKR let go of 22 employees when it ended service in Santiago, Chile and Medellin, Colombia.
  • Zomato canned 3% of its workforce due to “regular performance evaluations.”
  • Autonomous delivery vehicle startup Nuro laid off about 300 employees to preserve cash, admitting it had over-hired in 2021.
  • DoorDash laid off 1,250 employees to bring down its operating expenses.

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