Motif FoodWorks names new CEO

Name: Michael Leonard

New title: CEO

Previous title: Chief Technology Officer

Motif FoodWorks has named Leonard as its new CEO, effective immediately. He replaces Jonathan McIntyre, who had been Motif’s CEO since the company spun off of Ginkgo Bioworks in 2019. McIntyre will transition to an advisory role with the company.

Leonard has also been at Motif since soon after its inception. He’s played a large role in developing the company’s Hemami and Appetex ingredients, creating its meat alternative products, and leading the company through two fundraising rounds.

Motif has recently seen some structural changes. In July, an unspecified number of employees were laid off as part of a restructuring. A spokesperson said at the time that the company was pivoting its focus to “key priorities that we know will return maximum ROI for our customers and investors.”

Motif started with a focus on using science and biotech to develop next-generation ingredients to improve plant-based food. Finished plant-based meat products were not expected as part of that, but Motif decided to enter that line of business in response to what it said was an overwhelmingly positive response to test products.

“I look forward to leading this business as we strengthen our position in the market and deepen our organizational focus on commercialization, technology development, and growth,” Leonard said in a written statement.

Before joining Motif, Leonard had a long career in food R&D. He was vice president for white space innovation and Springboard R&D at Kraft Heinz, and was vice president of process technology for Global Snacks R&D at PepsiCo before that. He also held leadership roles in process and protein research at the former DuPont Nutrition & Health and International Flavors & Fragrances. He has a doctorate in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.