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Food tech startup UPSIDE Foods, formerly known as Memphis Meats, hired Amy Chen from beverage giant PepsiCo, as its inaugural chief operating officer. This move is in sync with the company’s plans to ramp up the commercialization of its first consumer product—cell-cultured chicken.
Founded by cardiologist Uma Valeti, and Nicholas Genovese and Will Clem, UPSIDE Foods is dedicated to creating cell-cultured meat, poultry, and seafood.
Launched in 2015, it was the world’s first company focussed on cellular agriculture technology. It now has the backing of several high-profile investors including Bill Gates, Kimbal Musk, Richard Branson, and Jack and Suzy Welch.
In February 2016, it unveiled the world’s first cultured meatball, and in March 2017, the world’s first cultured poultry. Its flagship debut product for consumers which is pending regulatory review is due to launch by the end of 2021.
UPSIDE Foods First COO
To accelerate the commercialisation of its product, it has appointed former PepsiCo senior vice president Amy Chen as the company’s first chief operating officer (COO).
“We needed a proven leader with global food experience to match our global ambitions, and an equally deep commitment to our mission to make meat that is better for the world,” Valeti said in a statement. “Amy is exactly that. Bringing Amy into our executive team reflects UPSIDE Foods’ shift in focus from research and development to a consumer and commercial organization, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our team of UPSIDERS.”
From Soft Drinks to Cell-Based Meat
With more than a decade at PepsiCo as the senior vice president of the Beverages North America division, Chen was the chief marketing officer for PepsiCo’s snacks business in the Greater China Region. She was a charter member of PepsiCo’s Human Rights Operating Committee.
Bringing Amy into our executive team reflects UPSIDE Foods’ shift in focus from research and development to a consumer and commercial organization, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our team of UPSIDERSUma Valeti, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods
Chen also co-founded and launched Food for Good, a social business incubator, which, since 2009, has provided more than 50 million meals to underserved children. Chen brings more than 15 years of experience in strategy, marketing and innovation, sales, operations, and category development.
Chen said she is thrilled to join UPSIDE’s movement to shift the food system. “Throughout my career, I’ve always been committed to using business as a force for good. The ability to help define a new industry, build a commercial organization from the ground up, and change the world all at the same time are opportunities I’m looking forward to tackling with our growing team at UPSIDE Foods.”
Chen’s Role At UPSIDE
The ability to help define a new industry, build a commercial organization from the ground up, and change the world all at the same time are opportunities I’m looking forward to tackling with our growing team at UPSIDE Foods.Amy Chen, COO at UPSIDE Foods
Chen will be leading the global strategy and commercial functions like sales and marketing, finance and operations, product development, food safety and public policy as well as focus on expanding the brand’s culture. She has already been key in the company’s rebranding from Memphis Meats to UPSIDE Foods and the announcement of the cell-based chicken as its first consumer product.
To manufacture this meat on a large scale, the company has set up a pilot plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. From production to packaging to shipping of the cultured meat, the entire process will take place in one location.
In the past, the company even secured a whopping US$161 million in its Series B round funding, the largest funding round for a cultivated meat company.
Lead image courtesy of P.D. Soros & UPSIDE Foods.