Harmless Harvest Adds CEO, COO

HarmlessHarvest_970Fair trade-focused coconut water brand Harmless Harvest today announced that it is adding a pair of experienced big-company executives to help run the business.

Co-founders Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud will remain with the company, focusing on product development, while Giannella Alvarez, a former Coca-Cola executive who helped run the global hydration, sports and energy division (including acquired brands like Vitaminwater, Smartwater, and Fuze) will be coming in as Harmless Harvest’s CEO. Alvarez has deep experience with big companies like Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark and Del Monte Foods (where she ran the pet food business from July 2013 to Feb. 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Gianella Alvarez

Giannella Alvarez

Brad Paris, currently the interim CFO/COO of Pom Wonderful, is joining Harmless Harvest as COO. Paris spent more than a decade in upper management at Pom and parent company Roll Global before a two-year stretch as the President and COO of Wild Veggie, a frozen food startup owned by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical, a Japanese conglomerate.

The new executives are expected to join the company on Sept. 21.

Guilbert told BevNET that he and Riboud first explored the idea of expanding its executive team about a year ago and that the addition of Alvarez and Paris will provide sight lines and corporate-level experience for organizational strategy and planning as the company continues to grow.

“It crystallized about two months ago,” Guilbert said. “What we decided is we’re not going to be selling this company. We want to maintain business the way

Brad Paris

Brad Paris

we developed it. Instead of selling the company to corporate, we want to bring in the best leaders of the corporate… and learn from them. It’s not about us and our exposure and our individual needs, it was about the company and making sure that we can really get to the level that we want to get to this year.”

Noting that he and Guilbert are the two largest shareholders in Harmless Harvest, Riboud said that while the company does have other investors, handing off day-to-day operations of the company was primarily their own decision. The two co-founders will now place their efforts toward a “long-term vision” for Harmless Harvest, including innovation and social responsibility, as well as maintaining important shareholder, retailer and sourcing relationships.

Harmless Harvest’s brand has been in transition for the past month, as the company’s core coconut water offering has eliminated language emphasizing the phrases “100% raw” and “never heated,” instead focusing on “Harmless Coconut” — a product purchased under extracting fair trade circumstances. The company also scuttled a raw tea line this year, while announcing that it would be commercializing a yogurt product made using the meat of the coconut.