GREEN BAY, WIS. — Heather Govea, an established leader in the pet food manufacturing space, has joined Carnivore Meat Company as chief executive officer, effective May 1. Govea will leverage her decades of industry experience to help accelerate growth for the freeze-dried raw pet food and treat processor.

Govea is replacing Lanny Viegut who retired from his role as CEO of the company at the end of 2023. Viegut started Carnivore Meat Company in 2011 and will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors.

“We knew we needed a CEO with deep experience and a passion for the pet industry, together with the ambition and playbook to help us continue growing this business,” said Chris Tuffin, partner at Arbor Investments, which owns Carnivore Meat Company. “Heather brings the perfect skillset, having demonstrated success scaling several pet brands and organizations in her career along with the category insights and industry relationships to build strategic partnerships with retailers.”

Govea offers vast leadership experience in the pet food sector, having most recently served as chief strategy officer at Alphia, Inc., a major US co-manufacturer of pet food and treats. Govea has held transformative positions with several brands, including Natural Balance, Nulo and C.J. Foods, as well as having served as a pet specialty consultant, throughout her career.

“Joining Carnivore as CEO in this stage of the company’s trajectory is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Govea said. “I’m eager to continue accelerating growth with this team and leverage the strong momentum behind Vital Essentials following the recent brand re-launch. And with Arbor’s investment and expertise, the company is significantly expanding its capacity with the move into a new, state-of-the-art 235,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters later this year.

“It’s a dream scenario for me that matches my passion as a leader — catalyzing growth with high-quality, unique products that make a difference in the lives of pets and those that love them,” she added.

Carnivore Meat Company, which produces the Vital Essential brand, was acquired by Arbor Investments in December 2021. Vital Essentials offers a wide range of freeze-dried and raw frozen dog and cat food and treat products that are sold in more than 7,200 stores across the United States and Canada. The brand is also widely distributed online and internationally.

“Carnivore has an outstanding and unique culture, and a passionate team that I love working with,” said Carl Allegretti, president at Arbor and board chairman of Carnivore. “Heather is a proven leader and will fit seamlessly with the outstanding work force in Green Bay. We are thrilled to welcome her to the team at Carnivore.”

Govea earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from California State Polytechnic University. She will join the company at Global Pet Expo later this week, where Carnivore Meat Company and Vital Essentials will be exhibiting March 20 to 22 at booth #454.

Read more about Carnivore Meat Company in our exclusive processor profile here.