DURHAM – Durham-based food technology startup Pairwise is adding a former Walmart and Hershey Company executive to its board of directors, the company announced in a statement this week.

Michelle Gloeckler, who said in a statement issued by the company that she felt excited about the company’s differentiation in the existing marketplace, joins the firm as it moves toward a planned product launch for the company’s first commercial product in 2023.

Gloeckler spent more than 21 years at Hershey Companies, and more than seven years at Walmart, according to her LinkedIn profile, and becomes the company’s first independent director.

Pairwise uses gene editing to develop new varieties of fruits and vegetables and raised $90 million in a Series B funding round last year.

Durham biotech fertilizes gene-editing creation of new fruit and veggie varieties with $90M funding

“Michelle brings executive-level expertise from the CPG and retail industries to the Pairwise board, and we are excited to welcome her guidance as we enter our crucial next phase of growth as a technology-driven innovator in plant-based foods,” said Tom Adams, cofounder and CEO of Pairwise in a statement.  “We believe that the use of gene editing technology offers a transformative opportunity to open a new horizon for the $66 billion U.S. retail produce market.”

Gloeckler also serves on the boards of companies such as The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc., Holley Inc., and BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc.

Pairwise has raised $115 million in total, and has inked a $100 million five-year collaboration deal with Bayer Crop Science, according to a statement.  The company also entered into licensing agreements with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Broad Institute) in 2019, as reported on WRAL TechWire.  The company is advancing its work on new varieties and types of leafy greens, berries, and cherries, and now employs more than 130 employees, the company noted.

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