All insights

SEARCH: European Leadership Team - Disruptive Start-Up: Plant-based Protein

Mar 4, 2024
Melium's global manufacturing division engaged on a project with the venture capital arm of a world-leading multinational FMCG (100,000+ employees) to build a senior leadership team for a new venture in the alternative protein space.

Search Overview

The Company

The venture capital arm of a leading multinational FMCG company is establishing a new entity focused on the alternative protein space. This initiative aims to create a senior leadership team for a stand-alone entity leveraging circular economy principles. By transforming waste material into a premium texturising agent, the entity targets the B2B market, offering a game-changing ingredient for alternative protein and plant-based food companies.


• Leveraging circular economy principles, waste material created as bi-product of manufacturing process is transformed into separate value stream; a premium texturizing agent to be sold B2B to alternative protein and plant-based food companies

• New-to-the-world ingredient for the alternative protein market: clean-label, allergen and gluten-free, thereby reducing ingredient list. A game-changing binder for use in meat and dairy analogues, as well as egg-free bakery


• Series A funding complete: technical risk minimal with all product research & development finalised

• Focus for search: Industrialisation, Strategic Implementation and Commercialisation for Global Market

• Construction of Pilot Plant planned for 2022

The Search

Chief Commerical Officer

• Working directly alongside the CEO, creating and implementing the commercial and marketing strategy from scratch

• Challenge was to create a $1billion business from nothing within 5 years

• Responsible for all commercial activity including application development, branding, business development, go-to-market and pricing strategy

• Background in alternative protein with extensive food science experience, while also commercially exceptional. Able to have a hand in everything from marketing to pricing strategy, with a black book of contacts in alternative protein

Commercial growth accelerator with exceptional knowledge in food science and alternative proteins.

Global Engineering Director

• Responsible for building the business case for and overseeing the construction of the pilot plant

• Challenge was in industrialising the product, taking it from the R&D labs to the consumer

• Process experience with relevant technology (new-to-world), strong strategic vision, experience in construction of pilot sites and in managing complex engineering projects

Engineering Director with experience in the industrialisation of new-to-the-world products and in greenfield factory construction and development.

Applications Director

• Working closely with CCO to create and direct all applications work for this product

• Providing technical sales with relevant product data and collaborating closely with customers to develop model applications, create recipes and drive successful commercial pipeline

• Solid experience in meat analogues specifically, very hands-on and on-the-bench approach, while also having the seniority and strategic vision to lead the team

Food Scientist with plug-in-and-play meat analogue experience, as well as a strong commercial mindset to steer the technical sales team in the correct direction

Of utmost importance for all positions is a thorough assessment of cultural fit to ensure a sustainable introduction and long term retention

An atypical B2B ingredient company required atypical individuals: invested and resilient, able to embrace change and driven by will for project to succeed

Fast-paced start-up environment with the freedom to work autonomously and where job mandates occasionally overlap


• As culture fit was so important in this case, consistent touch points were vital to understand what an ‘exceptional’ candidate looked like in this context and what kind of individuals would ‘gel’ with the team.

• Due to specificity of requirements, the pool of candidates for each mandate was very small. Ensuring the value proposition, despite confidentiality restraints, was extremely strong from the first call was vital to ensuring a ‘right-first time’ approach.

• Thorough evaluation of candidates conducted against a mutually agreed competency matrix: technical, cultural and business excellence of each were assessed and noted on shortlist delivery. Final delivery included insight report, SWOT analysis and detailed notes on each individual.

For a detailed account of this search work, and a full report into the disruptive start-up: plant-based protein in Europe contact Kaeir Hughes - kaeir.hughes@melium.eu

All research & insights