Q&A with Apeel Sciences' Gordon Robertson and James Rogers
SANTA BARBARA, CA - If Apeel Sciences isn’t on your radar yet, there’s no doubt the company will be soon. While newer to the market, Apeel is already off to the races, and since its initial avocado launch, has already expanded its solutions to include new categories like citrus, asparagus, and berries. To position itself for even more growth, the company created the Chief Revenue Officer position and brought on Gordon Robertson to lead the charge of further establishing Apeel as a leading brand.
I sat down with Gordon, along with James Rogers, Founder and CEO, to learn more about the new executive's journey to his latest role and to hopefully get a peek behind the curtain at what the company has coming down its innovations pipeline.
Question: How did your produce journey begin?
Gordon Robertson: I started working in a grocery store over 30 years ago, which was what initially helped me learn more about customer and product development. I then went on to work at the Campbell Soup Company for 20 years, and, most recently, I spent 12 years at Sun World International, which was a tremendous learning opportunity.
I have a passion for food, which is why I’ve chosen to stay in the industry. Campbell got me close to food products and helped me learn more about the value companies bring to the consumer. When I made the move to fresh produce, I got closer to the source—I actually remember on my second day, I was literally elbows deep in a bin of citrus. My move to Apeel is helping fulfill my personal goals. Apeel’s technology is new, it’s fascinating, and it’s actually a solution that I think will be accepted by growers, retailers, and consumers.
Q: The Chief Revenue Officer is a newly created position for Apeel. What drew you to it?
GR: The role offered some dynamic challenges that intrigued me. The ability to build out an organization from the ground up, really taking a white paper and saying what are we going to do to go find the best-in-class solutions and bring them to the marketplace is very exciting. I also saw that this as a global opportunity—it’s a solution for the world’s supply chain. Not to mention that if you looked at the pipeline of products we’re working on today—it’s a great pipeline of innovation that is going to fuel the activity of this role and of the organization.
James Rogers: We truly want to go beyond what’s been done and venture out to see what the possibilities could be. Our philosophy is we don’t need to go to a lab to create new chemistries to solve old problems, but that we can look at the natural world and ecosystems to create and inspire solutions that won’t cause additional problems. We think Gordon showcases a big picture perspective that will be integral to the Chief Revenue Officer role as we continue to expand to new categories and introduce new solutions.
Q: What makes Gordon such a good addition to the team?
JR: If you haven’t met him before, he’s a fantastic individual. On top of that, his 20 years of experience at Campbell, where he gained product and category management expertise, and his 12 years at Sun World, where he helped turn the commoditized red table grape into a premium differentiated offering at retail, is exactly what we’re trying to build here at Apeel. His experience, fantastic industry reputation, and willingness to take on new big challenges is what we’re looking for. He has all the right skills to lead Apeel’s brand development and sales growth.
Q: What makes Apeel such a unique partner and place to work in the industry?
JR: Apeel occupies a really important space in the industry; we’re able to bring benefits to everyone in the supply chain. We recognize that the challenge for growers today is ensuring quality is maintained from the moment the produce is picked from the vine to the moment it arrives at retail. Grocers are responsible for offering a variety of items to consumers virtually year-round with very high quality consistently. But, we know that once produce is picked, the clock starts ticking, and quality is really at the mercy of nature. So, Apeel is able to occupy that space between the supply and retail sides and we see a unique opportunity to be the post-harvest technology solutions provider that helps suppliers deliver the quality they grew to the retailers’ shelves, and then help retailers merchandise that quality.
GR: Apeel offers three things that really wowed me: innovation, culture, and evolution. Our industry is looking for innovations that offer better solutions to growers’, retailers’, and consumers’ problems, and I think Apeel holds a key solution. The culture at Apeel is dynamic, fast, and smart. The talent on our team and their willingness to challenge the status quo offers a fast-paced environment that I look forward to continuing to build out. Lastly, I want to continue to be a part of innovation. We’re literally going from atoms to apples, which positions us to bring a truly unique solution to our partners that actually delivers fresh fruit to the consumer. Food waste is a big business and good business with over $18 billion dollars of value. Apeel’s job is to go get that business.
Congratulations to Gordon on your new role and to the Apeel team, just because! For more produce companies and innovators to watch, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow.