Building a sustainable protein future: GFI Europe’s Managing Director reflects on 4 years of impact

GFI Europe’s Managing Director Richard Parr MBE looks back on GFI Europe at four years old, all that has been achieved and the next exciting chapter for the organisation.

Plant-based steak with broccoli and a glaze
Photo credit: Redefine meat

One-man startup to established nonprofit

Richard Parr MBE, GFI Europe Managing Director

In February 2019, I became GFI Europe’s first member of staff. Now, thanks to the support of GFI’s global family of donors, we’ve grown to an amazing team of 22 people, and counting.

After four years, I’ve decided it’s now time for me to step away from the day-to-day workflow and management of the organisation, and transition to a higher-level role, providing oversight of GFI Europe’s top management and strategy. I will retain my position on the GFI Europe Board, providing strategic oversight of the organisation, and also take on a part-time role as Strategic Advisor.

The day-to-day management of GFI Europe will pass to a new Managing Director – so we’re now looking for an exceptional leader to oversee the organisation and maximise the impact of our brilliant team.

As we begin this new chapter as an organisation, I’m reflecting on what we’ve achieved together so far. Here are some of my favourite moments from the last four years:

Defeating the veggie burger ban
A selection of plant-based meats on the shelf in a supermarket

In 2020, the EU considered plans to ban plant-based producers from describing their foods with everyday language like ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’.

Ahead of the European Parliament’s vote on this ‘veggie burger ban’, GFI Europe’s policy and communications teams got to work.

Collaboration with others and maximising mission impact are central to our ethos – so the teams worked with allies from other NGOs, businesses and consumer groups to contact MEPs, write open letters, and attract mainstream media attention across Europe.

Thanks to their work, MEPs recognised the absurdity of the plans and voted to protect commonsense plant-based labelling.

Capturing the interest of the conventional meat industry
GFI Europe's Science and Technology Manager Seren Kell speaking at IFFA

It’s been incredible to see the plant-based and cultivated meat sectors grow since 2019. GFI’s industry expertise enables us to build trusting relationships with some of the most powerful players across the food industry – who will ultimately deliver sustainable proteins to supermarket shelves and dining tables across Europe.

Last year, we saw how impactful this work can be when we partnered with the world’s largest meat industry trade fair. GFI experts gave talks on the opportunities presented by plant-based and cultivated meat, and attracted crowds of business leaders to see the sustainable protein exhibits. This work is vital if we are to transform our food system for the benefit of people, animals and the planet.

Putting sustainable proteins on the global climate agenda
GFI billboard in Glasgow during COP26

When world leaders came to Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate conference, GFI Europe seized the opportunity to put plant-based and cultivated meat on their radars. We posted billboards across the city, hosted a key event, and met with more than 50 representatives of governments, NGOs and industry to make the case for sustainable protein investment.

This first step into UN climate summits for GFI paved the way for our even stronger presence at last year’s COP27 in Egypt – where our global colleagues helped to put cultivated meat on the menu.

Building our extraordinarily capable and high-performing team
A photo of the full GFI Europe team.
Photo credit: Barbara Evripidou/

None of what GFI Europe has achieved over the past four years would have been possible had we not built such a fantastic team. Each role at GFI Europe is designed for maximum impact. Our rigorous selection process has ensured we have some of Europe’s most talented people dedicating their professional lives to advancing plant-based foods, cultivated meat and fermentation. Building and leading this team has been the biggest highlight of the last four years for me.

As we search for a new Managing Director to lead GFI Europe into this next chapter, we’re looking for someone exceptional. The role is an unmissable opportunity to help build a more sustainable, secure and just food system, and to maximise the impact of an excellent team. If you know a dynamic leader with a passion for driving positive change, please share this role with them.


Richard Parr MBE