Plant-protein brand Wicked Foods, led by ex-General Mills exec, will launch in U.S.


By Carter Jones, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Nov 19, 2020


A former executive at General Mills Inc.'s venture arm has joined a British plant-based food brand's foray into the United States, preparing for a 2021 debut with offices based in the Twin Cities.


Wicked Foods, which makes plant-based meals, snacks and ingredients, was founded by chefs and brothers Derek and Chad Sarno. In 2018, the brand launched with 20 products under the Wicked Kitchen brand in 2018 at Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the U.K. Since then, Tesco has expanded the line to more than 80 products across the store.


Now, the company plans to expand to the United States and has brought on Pete Speranza as CEO. Speranza, who worked at General Mills Inc. for 24 years, founded the company's 301Inc unit to invest in food startups. 301Inc previously invested in Gathered Foods, which was also founded by the Sarnos.


Speranza is currently an operating partner at Unovis, a fund dedicated to investing in alternatives to animal proteins.


“In my nearly 25 years in CPG, I haven’t seen anything quite like what Chad and Derek have been able to create with Wicked Foods,” Speranza said. “Their commitment to producing the most crave-able, sought after, chef-crafted plant-based foods is driving huge demand in the UK, and we know Americans are ready for this genuine and unapologetic approach to plant-based eating. Beyond that, it’s not only vegans that are creating demand but also mainstream consumers who want in on alternative protein options that put flavor first.”


The brand offers grab-and-go and ready-in-minutes foods that "creatively challenges perceptions of what can be done with plants," according to a press release...


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