Plant-based chicken nuggets are on the way this fall from Redwood City, Calif.-based Impossible Foods, as one of the biggest names in plant-based proteins announces a pair of leadership moves ahead of an upcoming category expansion.
Leilani Gayles, former chief people officer for the San Francisco Giants, is joining Impossible in that same HR role. Gayles will oversee talent acquisition and development; compensation; diversity, equity and inclusion work; and other strategic people initiatives.
David Borecky, a former senior manager for Square who has been serving as Impossible's interim financial chief, has been formally promoted to CFO. In Borecky's past two years overseeing Impossible's financial operations, the company has secured more than $700 million in new funding, Impossible noted in a news release.
Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown called Gayles and Borecky "extraordinary leaders who share our vision of turning back the clock on climate change by transforming the global food system." The company's supercharged growth in the past two years includes the expanded availability of Impossible Burgers at grocery stores from around 150 stores in spring 2020 to more than 20,000 today. This spring, Impossible Foods launched its first national advertising campaign, "We Are Meat," targeting so-called flexitarians and others hungry for the taste of traditional meat products but interested in plant-based alternatives—at least some of the time.
Fall will bring the debut of plant-based chicken for Impossible, with meatless nuggets set to debut in U.S. grocery stores and restaurants in the next few months. Additional SKUs will join Impossible's product lineup, as well, the company stated.
The COVID-19 pandemic lifted meat sales at grocery stores to record highs in 2020, FMI and the Meat Institute Foundation reported in March, but plant-based alternatives also enjoyed a record-breaking year as more U.S. households reported adding plant-based alternatives—primarily meat and milk alternatives—to their carts. In 2020, according to data from Chicago-based market researcher SPINS, 18% of U.S. households reported buying plant-based meat alternatives, up from 14% who said so in 2019.