Honoree: Matt Dunaj
Chief Financial Officer
Follow Your Heart / Earth Island
Matt Dunaj has worked his way through the ranks of Follow Your Heart/Earth Island. Now as CFO, Dunaj has positioned Follow Your Heart to take the next step as a plant foods giant. Among his many fiscal stewardship achievements at Earth Island have been navigating Follow Your Heart / Earth Island through a successful multimillion dollar acquisition; successfully launching a new product line in global pandemic; expanding a distribution partnership with Walmart to 4,000 stores nationwide; leading the brand to be recognized as a cutting-edge company for implementation of sustainable best practices; and having led the company through the loss of the founding owner and financial stress. In February 2021, just shy of a year after becoming CFO, Dunaj spearheaded the sale of Follow Your Heart to French global food brand Danone. The transaction was a share purchase agreement with Danone buying 100% of the shares of Earth Island/Follow Your Heart’s parent company. Financial details were not disclosed, however, the sale is estimated to be for hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2020, Follow Your Heart celebrated its 50 year anniversary. Dunaj has been integral to the recent success and expansion of Follow Your Heart. Since 2010 the company has reported an increase in revenue by five times. From humble beginnings, Follow Your Heart got its start as a food counter in the back of a natural foods store. Thanks in large part to Dunaj’s stewardship, Follow Your Heart is now an established international plant-based food brand. Its award-winning products include Vegenaise, the original and No.1vegan mayo, as well as a variety of dairy alternatives including vegan cheeses, fresh salad dressings, and new breakfast staples like dairy-free yogurts and VeganEgg. Dunaj has also helped Follow Your Heart find new avenues of revenue growth though partnership and retail opportunities. In 2020, Follow Your Heart launched Dairy-Free Feta Crumbles Cheese Alternative, a first-of-its kind crumbled vegan cheese made with coconut oil. The company brought another first-of-its kind product to market, Rocket Cakes.