Nobel Foods poaching an impossible executive to lead food science and product development

Diving Summary:

  • Plant-based cheese company Nobell Foods has hired Sergey Solomatin to oversee its food science and product development team, the company said in a news release.

  • Solomatin joins Nobel after more than 10 years at Impossible Foods, where he helped develop, scale and commercialize its food technology.

  • Solomatin’s hiring comes as companies in the plant-based space seek whatever competitive advantage they can muster amid heightened competition and, in some cases, slowing growth.

Diving information:

As food manufacturers plan for their future, the battlefield is drawn not just in the products they sell, but also in the people they hire to fill the executive suite. Often this means stealing a top executive from another rival or industry entirely.

According to Nobell, during his time at Impossible Foods, Solomatin created a group that included more than 30 scientists who made “key contributions to developing and launching the flagship Impossible Ground Beef products, as well as laying the foundation for future products.”

Sergei Solomatin

Permission granted by Nobel Foods

Solomatin is highly experienced, bringing a decade of employment in food companies where he worked in nucleic acid biochemistry, biophysics, polymer chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. For plant-based food companies, building a product that tastes, smells, and textures the same or similar to what comes from an animal is a key goal to appeal to carnivorous consumers.

Solomatin will no doubt be seen as using the skills he honed at Impossible, one of the leaders in the plant-based meat category, to help Nobell’s dairy stand out and potentially grow the company’s portfolio.

“As we pioneer a new category of plant-grown protein foods, the innovative work being done by Sergey and his team will allow us to challenge perceptions of how animal-free cheese tastes, melts, and stretches,” Magi Richani , Founder and CEO of Nobel Foods.

Although it’s in the plant-based cheese space, Nobell Foods is doing something extremely similar to Impossible. Nobell is focused on creating casein, the milk protein that gives cheese its characteristic springiness, from bioengineered soybeans. Impossible Foods uses bioengineered soybeans to make their plant-based heme: soy leghemoglobin. Heme, Impossible Foods has said, gives meat its signature flavor.

While there are several companies in the plant-based cheese space, only Nobell has said that it is working on a plant-based casein. New Culture and Change Foods are working to create the protein through precision fermentation.

Nobel hasn’t made many public announcements recently, though it has been seen as a new company. It emerged from stealth in July 2021 with a $75 million Series B funding round co-led by Andreessen Horowitz, Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures.

Today, the company’s website is littered with “coming soon” symbols. Richani said in an interview last April that the company’s goal was to launch consumer products in the next 12 to 18 months.

Solomatin started at Nobel Foods on January 13, but the company announced his arrival publicly only this week. It will play a role during what the company described as “a period of strategic growth.”

Nobel Foods is the latest food technology company to bolster its ranks. Last week, precision-fermented egg protein maker The Every Company named Nair Flores as the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. Flores has held legal positions at hypergrowth tech companies, including as Facebook’s first patent attorney and head of patents, and first in-house lawyer and head of intellectual property at Lyft.

Earlier this month, mycelium meat analogue maker Meati Foods hired two supply chain and operations leaders. Elizabeth Fikes is the company’s new director of supply chain and Joseph Johnston is the senior vice president of operations and engineering.

Megan Poinski contributed to this report.

Source link

James D. Brown
James D. Brown
Articles: 9344