Orlando, Florida-based Kalera, a technology-driven vertical farming company, has hired two new executives. The newly appointed VP of foodservice sales, Marc Jennings, brings with him more than 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry. Mark Gagnon, VP of sales for retail accounts, has more than three decades of experience in the produce and grocery industries.
Jennings brings foodservice experience
Prior to joining Kalera, Jennings spent his career building networks of strategic partners in the food industry, both domestically and internationally. Most recently, he worked as the chief commercial officer at Martin Preferred Foods, where he worked to expand into new geographies through strategic alliances. He previously spent four years as the VP of sales and marketing at Food Services of America and four years as the VP of foodservice at Cargill, a company with reported revenues of almost $115 billion.
Jennings has received recognition as a leader of sales and marketing from the International Food Distribution Association and the International Food Manufacturing Association, where he has held advocacy positions on the industry board. His primary goal as Kalera’s VP of foodservice sales is to build a coalition of strategic partners who share the vision of delivering Kalera’s fresh, locally produced greens to consumers across the planet.
“I’ve always been passionate about finding a sustainable, healthy solution to feeding the world’s growing population, and Kalera does that efficiently and effectively,” said Jenningss. “I believe my wide range of experience makes me uniquely qualified to establish the diverse network necessary to deliver Kalera’s solution globally.”
Gagnon heading retail accounts
Gagnon brings with him more than 30 years of sales and leadership experience with three major produce brands, Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte. Before his six-year tenure as the VP of sales at Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc., he led the East Coast sales team for Chobani, where he focused on account development, retail expansion, increasing market share, creating brand awareness and developing a new sales team. He previously worked for nine years as the national director of sales for Chiquita, where his main focus was growing market share in both pineapple and banana business, as well as leading the Kroger team for all Chiquita products. Gagnon was also the national account manager for Kroger at The Dole Food Co. and held various other sales leadership roles over a 14-year period with Dole.
“Over the last 30 years, I’ve developed strong partnerships and relationships with the top retailers in the country through strategic planning and customer engagement at the top levels of each retail organization,” Gagnon said. “I’m extremely eager to bring my experience and learnings in the produce industry to Kalera, and join a first class company with an incredibly bright future.”
“Having this strong and unified sales team will be crucial to Kalera’s growth and development as we expand globally,” said Daniel Malechuk, CEO of Kalera. “With Mark’s proven track record of account development with key retailers, and Marc’s international manufacturing and distribution background, I have confidence in their ability to continue Kalera’s momentum in building our network of strategic partners as we grow Kalera’s reach. We’re truly thrilled to have them join the team.”
Kalera has the ability to deliver fresh, locally grown greens nationally, thanks in large part to its streamlined design process and technological advancements. By the end of 2021, Kalera will have five commercial growing facilities open and operating across the U.S. The company’s recent major milestones include:
- Its first commercial vertical farm, the HyCube growing center, currently operates on the premises of the Orlando World Center Marriott, bringing fresh, local produce to the hotel’s visitors and customers.
- In March 2020, Kalera opened its second facility in Orlando, providing produce to the area’s top retailers, leading foodservice distributors, resorts, hospitality groups and theme parks.
- The Atlanta facility is the third farm in Kalera’s portfolio, and when it opens early next year it will be the largest vertical farm in the Southeast.
- Its fourth facility is slated to open in Houston spring 2021 and will be the largest of its kind in Texas.
- In 2021, Kalera will open its fifth and most western location in Colorado, which will serve the greater Denver area.
As Kalera accelerates its growth over the next few years, it will continue to open additional facilities, expanding production capacity throughout the U.S. and internationally.
With indoor facilities situated right where the demand is, Kalera is able to supply an abundance of produce locally, eliminating the need to travel long distances when shipping perishable products and ensuring the highest quality and freshness. Its cutting-edge technology allows plants to reach their maximum potential, and the facilities produce yields at 300-400 times that of traditional field farming. In addition to maximizing production, Kalera’s growing methods and cleanroom technology eliminates the need for chemical pesticide use, and their plants consume 95 percent less water than field-farmed plants.