- Believer Meats COO Gustavo Burger has been promoted to CEO. Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, who previously ran the cultivated meat company, left Believer Meats — formerly known as Future Meat Technologies — to pursue other opportunities.
- Burger joined the company in January 2022 after spending much of his career at big CPG companies. He worked almost six years at Kraft Heinz, serving in various positions based in Europe, including senior vice president of most of the company’s regions outside of North America. He also spent more than a year and a half as vice president of operations at Brazilian food processing company BRF, and eight years working in procurement and logistics with AB InBev in Europe.
- Believer Meats is currently building what will be the world’s largest cultivated meat production facility in North Carolina. The plant is slated to be operational in the first quarter of 2024, and the company is optimistic that it will have a regulatory green light to begin making product soon afterward.
Believer Meats is getting set to make a huge pivot from focusing on R&D to becoming known on the market as a CPG brand.
In the last year and several months of working with Believer Meats, Burger led a crucial part of that pivot, building out an operations team with comprehensive CPG experience, the company said. He also worked toward the new facility’s groundbreaking, which took place in December.
Construction continues on the facility, which will be the first large-scale one for Israel-based Believer Meats.
The company, founded in 2018, has been a leader in the cultivated meat space. Believer aims to produce meat grown from cells both quickly and inexpensively. The company uses fibroblasts, a fast growing kind of connective tissue cell, to make its meat. It also has devised ways to clean and reuse the growth media for the cells, which increases efficiency and lowers costs.
Believer is one of the most well-capitalized companies in the cultivated meat space, raising almost $388 million during its lifetime. Its investors include venture arms of food industry giants Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods and Rich Products.
The company also has been working with Nestlé to help the world’s largest food maker explore the potential of cultivated meat.
Burger is the third CEO for the cultivated meat company, and the second since 2022. Unlike many other food tech companies, Believer has always had someone more business-minded as its CEO. Believer founder Yaakov Nahmias, a renowned bioengineer and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has held other leadership positions in the company, including chief scientific officer and president.
Believer also announced Kash Muthuraman will succeed Burger as the COO. Muthuraman was previously the company’s vice president of operations. He also spent a decade working in senior positions in logistics and operations for Kraft Heinz and its predecessor company Kraft. Before coming to Believer last July, Muthuraman spent more than two years as head of sales and operations planning for the company’s U.S. Zone.
Being able to physically scale the company up, working through the path to regulatory approval and handling food CPG business functions — including marketing, packaging, distribution and product placement — are important skills that the leadership of a cultivated meat company needs to have. Burger and Muthuraman both have that experience, which could put Believer in a better spot as it prepares to launch into the market.