“Meati Foods Appoints CFO Phill Graves as it Trims Workforce by 13%”

After naming Phil Graves the chief financial officer of alternative protein maker Meati Foods at the beginning of February, he is now the company’s new chief executive officer. The company also said it was reducing its workforce by 13% as Meati works to “build a financially sustainable business,” Graves told TechCrunch exclusively. Products are now in over 3,600 retail locations nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Meijer, Cub Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market. Graves even said the company has a goal of expanding that to 10,000 locations before the end of 2024. Once fully ramped up, the facility will have the capability of producing more than 45 million pounds of product, Huggins told TechCrunch at the time.

At the start of February, Phil Graves was appointed as the chief financial officer for Meati Foods, an alternative protein company. Now, he has also taken on the role of chief executive officer for the company.

The company’s co-founder, Tyler Huggins, will transition into the position of chief product and brand officer. In this role, he will oversee the company’s brand refocus as Meati, the maker of alternative protein cutlets and steaks from mycelium, or mushroom root, begins to roll out more of its MushroomRoot product in 2024.

In order to build a sustainable business, Meati has decided to reduce its workforce by 13%. In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Graves explained, “To do that, you have to have the right organizational structure and team in place.” He also acknowledged that this reduction in staff may be difficult for those involved, but it is necessary for the company to have a clear path to financial profitability.

The company did not disclose the exact number of jobs that will be affected by this decision. At its peak in 2022, Meati employed approximately 150 people. The details of severance packages are still being finalized.

This move by Meati is not uncommon in the tech industry. Despite not showing any signs of trouble, the company’s Mega Ranch facility has scaled production throughout 2023. Its products can now be found in over 3,600 retail locations nationwide, including popular stores such as Whole Foods Market, Meijer, Cub Foods, and Sprouts Farmers Market. In fact, Graves has set a goal of expanding to 10,000 locations by the end of 2024.

Mushrooms are currently trending in the food industry, with companies using them to create functional beverages and even leather-like materials. This has resulted in many companies finding success and receiving significant venture capital funding, simply by growing more mushrooms.

Meati is one such company that has gained the attention of investors. In the past two years, the company has raised a significant amount of venture capital, with its most recent fundraising round at the Series C level. They initially announced a $150 million investment in July 2022, and in January 2023, they received an additional $22 million. The round ultimately closed at over $200 million later that year.

A large portion of this funding was used to build the company’s 100,000-square-foot “Mega Ranch” facility, which can produce tens of millions of pounds of protein each year. According to Huggins, once the facility is fully operational, it will have the capability of producing over 45 million pounds of product. Speaking to TechCrunch in the past, he stated, “Production is ramping up as expected; however, the days where companies can raise unlimited capital and defer profitability for decades are gone.”

Graves added, “One of the main things that I am laser-focused on, and the team is as well, is showcasing a clear path to profitability in the next 12 months. We aim to be EBITDA positive, and we have a path to get there. Our ceiling is as high as it’s ever been with these changes.”

Recently, Graves joined Meati from Wild Idea Buffalo Co., a company that specializes in sustainable meat production, where he served as CEO for nearly two years. Prior to this, he worked at Bass Pro Shops and at Patagonia, where he founded their corporate venture fund, Tin Shed Ventures.

According to Huggins, “Phil is undoubtedly the right person to lead the company forward while I focus on delivering the product and brand that will establish Meati’s long-term legacy.” He added, “We are coming significantly closer to fulfilling the reason Meati was founded — to elevate the health of people and the planet with the boundless potential of nature.”

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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