The LIVEKINDLY Collective is pleased to announce two new additions, rounding out its leadership team. David Knopf will be taking on the role of Chief Financial Officer and Joanna Liu is set to become the CEO of Greater China.
With their combined expertise, both Knopf and Liu will help the Collective achieve its mission of becoming one of the world’s biggest plant-based companies.
Knopf has a wealth of experience in leadership roles and was named in Forbes’ 2017 30-Under-30 list for his role in the $11 billion Burger King-Tim Hortons merger, as well as Heinz’s merger with Kraft.
Before joining the Collective, Knopf was a partner at global investment firm 3G Capital. He also held several leadership roles at the Kraft Heinz Company, including Global CFO, and worked for private equity platform Onex Partners, and investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Knopf is a “huge asset” to the company and its mission to transform the global food system says the LIVEKINDLY Collective’s CEO and Chairman Kees Kruythoff.
Knopf is excited to join the LIVEKINDLY Collective because he wants to work with a company that will “be a significant force of good in the world.”
“The positive externalities of transforming global meat consumption and the meat supply-chain are enormous, between supporting animal welfare and significantly reducing CO2 emissions and socio-economic inequality,” he explained.
He continued: “And in the current global environment, I feel—as I hope many do—an acute and heightened sense of social responsibility, which is why I chose to join such an incredible team and company that is well positioned to transform the food industry.”
Based on his experiences working in the food industry, Knopf believes the world is moving toward a plant-based future.
“I think the company has an incredibly powerful model and is therefore well positioned to become the preeminent global plant-based food company,” he said. “As a collective of like-minded entrepreneurs, founders and experienced global CPG leaders, the LIVEKINDLY Collective is uniquely positioned to attract growing plant-based food businesses into its ecosystem and leverage its experienced management team to scale those businesses at speed, while also creating powerful partnerships across the supply-chain in order to enable that growth.”
The Collective is also looking to the East for expansion, hence the appointment of Liu, who will join the company in August.
She has more than 20 years of experience as a commercial leader in Greater China food companies. She was a founder in the McCain Asian Food Service Incubator, and, before that, she worked for both Nestlé and Coca-Cola China.
Liu, who was born in China, says she witnessed the eradication of the countryside’s greenery and pristine waters due to commercial industrialization.
“When I worked for Coca-Cola and Nestle, I witnessed China packaged consumer food development. After I joined McCain, I saw the differences in the food service industry and the agriculture industry between China and the West,” she said.
She says “Building a more beautiful and healthier China is now a core part of China Dream” and her career aspiration is now to “nourish people and the earth, and guide China’s agriculture product development in a more sustainable way.”
Liu explained that encouraging the consumption of plant-based foods in China and new, advanced technologies in the country’s agriculture sector are “vital to the protection of the environment.”
China currently consumes more vegetables than any other country, according to Liu. The country’s per capita consumption of animal proteins according to OECO-FAO data is 17.5 kilograms per person per year—which is 70 percent less than in the US.
“In 2019, China’s food related GDP was 15.8 trillions, within which food service revenue was 4.6 trillions with a 9.4 percent annual growth,” she explained. “With this income growth, Chinese are looking for better food and a better way of life.”
According to Kruythoff, for more than two decades, Liu’s leadership in Greater China “has been instrumental in driving growth for consumer food brands.”
He said in a statement: “her industry and regional insights will set up the LIVEKINDLY Collective for entry into one of the most exciting markets in the world.” He added that her appointment will help “support our ambition to spearhead a global food transformation with environmentally-friendly meat alternatives.”
The current global food system is unsustainable. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also contributes to a multitude of other environmental problems, including deforestation and ocean acidification.
With its mission-aligned leadership team and portfolio of plant-based brands, which include The Fry Family Food Co., Oumph!, LikeMeat, and lifestyle brand LIVEKINDLY, the LIVEKINDLY Collective is on a mission to transform the existing food system. With that, it aims to create a kinder environment for humanity, our home, and those who share it with us.