Impossible Foods CFO David Lee Takes On Indoor Farming In New AppHarvest Role

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David Lee, former chief financial officer at plant-based giant Impossible Foods, has left his position to take on his new role at agri-tech startup AppHarvest. Joining AppHarvest as president, Lee will lead strategy development and operations, marketing and sales to drive the company’s ambitions to become an “iconic brand and sustainable foods company”. 

David Lee, CFO at Impossible Foods since 2015, will be joining AppHarvest, a Kentucky-based agri-tech firm building some of the biggest indoor farms across the U.S. to grow affordable, nutritious and sustainable fresh produce. As president effective January 25, Lee will be bringing his experience in food tech innovation and disruption to help AppHarvest continue its growth by developing strategy and engaging in operations management and in the sales, marketing and finance functions of the firm. 

AppHarvest’s farms, which run on a circular irrigation system, grow produce using 100% recycled rainwater without the use of any pesticides and are able to yield up to 30-fold that of conventional open-field agricultural farms with the same amount of land. Located in the Appalachian region in the U.S. with reach to 70% of the country’s population, the firm says that it can help deliver nutritious fresh fruit and vegetables at an 80% reduction in diesel consumption due to shorter transportation distances compared to produce imported from the Southwest of the U.S. and Mexico. 

I have seen firsthand that when given sustainable options, consumers will be the market force that helps address climate change and food supply issues.

David Lee

In a statement, Lee, who has served on AppHarvest’s board of directors since August last year, explained that his new role is a continuation of his journey in bringing about change to the unsustainable global food system. 

“AppHarvest offers a unique solution to building a more resilient and responsible food system,” said Lee. “I have seen firsthand that when given sustainable options, consumers will be the market force that helps address climate change and food supply issues, ensuring success of companies that are putting the planet first, and I am eager to invest my time in a mission-driven company with so much potential to grow.”

Lee, who during his tenure at Impossible presided over an astonishing US$1.3 billion in investment raised, the most of any alternative protein company, added in a social media post: “5 years ago, I joined a brilliant founder Patrick Brown at Impossible Foods to realise his mission to use food to change the world, from prototype to global launch, powered by a consumer movement. 6 months ago, I met another brilliant founder Jonathan Webb and plan to do the same with AppHarvest.”

His skillset will help us build AppHarvest into an iconic brand and sustainable foods company that disrupts traditional agriculture.

Jonathan Webb, Founder & CEO, AppHarvest

The startup’s founder and CEO Jonathan Webb commented that Lee’s decades-long experience and credit for driving Impossible Foods’ astonishing growth– including securing more than US$1.3 billion in capital and record retail expansion – will be invaluable to AppHarvest’s goal of becoming an “iconic brand” that “disrupts traditional agriculture to deliver responsibly grown American products with social impact.” 

“David Lee brings decades of experience across retail and consumer industries driving business transformation and optimising organisational effectiveness from Del Monte to Zynga to Impossible Foods,” Webb added.

The welcoming of Lee into the leadership team comes as the agri-tech firm expects to begin its first-ever harvest from its flagship indoor farm facility in Morehead, boasting 60-acres of tomato-growing space. The company is also constructing additional farms in Kentucky state, which will be dedicated to growing leafy greens, and says there are nine potential projects planned across the Central Appalachia through until 2025. 


Lead image courtesy of AppHarvest / Impossible Foods. 


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