Stepping up to the plate: Leigh Keith

Posted: 12 January 2024 | | No comments yet

In this series, we speak to dynamic voices in the food industry, showcasing individuals who are embracing new responsibilities.

Stepping Up To The Plate

After being appointed to the Board of Directors at MUD/WTR, Leigh Keith sat down with New Food’s Assistant Editor Grace Galler to discuss her journey in the sector so far, innovating in the snack space and what it takes to establish a new category in retail.

Here, Keith also discusses empowering women in the food industry and why its imperative for any brand that wants to lead for the future to reflect the demands of consumers at the Board level and beyond.

Who are you and what is your new role?

My name is Leigh Keith, I am the Co-Founder and Chief of Brand & Mission at Perfect Bar. Newley appointed to the Board of Directors at MUD/WTR. 

Why is being on the board for MUD/WTR an exciting career move for you?

After building Perfect Bar for the last 19 years, I’m excited to have the opportunity to take all I have learned and apply it to a new business and product I’m personally passionate about. I think MUD has done an incredible job making the space of functional mushrooms and adaptogens really resonate with consumers today, gaining attention from top retailers like Target. I’m excited to get behind the team to support the amazing momentum they are having!

Can you tell us about your background in the food sector?

I founded Perfect Bar with my brothers and sisters, launching the first refrigerated protein bar, almost 20 years ago. We were self-manufactured and bootstrapped for the first 10 years, patiently building a strong foundation and following for our delicious family recipe. In 2015 we partnered with Private Equity firm, VMG Partners, scaling the brand to over $100 million in revenue which led to a successful exit to Mondelez in 2019. I continued on as Co-CEO, alongside my brother, leading the business until January of this year (2023), where we brought in an incredible new CEO to help lead this next chapter for the brand. I’m thrilled to remain on our leadership team and support my beloved brand as it continues to grow, delivering nutritious, organic snacks to millions of households across the country and beyond.

In your position as co-founder, former president, and co-CEO at Perfect Snacks – what important lessons will you bring with you to your latest position?

We like to say there are no sacred cows, meaning, we are willing to admit fault and fail fast until you get it right. Similar to Perfect’s story, MUD is playing a vital role in building a new category and that means there’s no perfect playbook. So, building a team and culture that knows how to get it wrong, if you know what I mean, is key to succeeding. Test and learn is the name of the game!

What makes you the perfect fit for the role?

I experienced first-hand what it takes to not only scale a brand, but to establish a new category in retail so I believe I can be a really valuable sounding board for Shane and his team. MUD is very similar to Perfect in that it will be about driving trial through creative tactics to build velocity on shelf.

To-date WOB Project has placed 50 women on various boards – what does this mean to you in terms of empowering women in the food industry?

I’m proud to be a part of the WOB community and admire and appreciate the incredible work they are doing to connect the endless supply of seasoned female executives, founders, and leaders with valuable board opportunities.

Empowering women in the food industry

With 70-80 percent of CPG purchasing decisions being made by women, it’s imperative for any brand that wants to lead for the future to reflect this consumer at the Board level and beyond.   

What does it take to successfully grow a brand in the food and beverage sector?

Oh gosh, a lot of grit and determination, I think. And now more than ever, a disciplined P&L.

What is one new story that has particularly stood out to you involving the sector in recent months?

I think overall, the way consumer shopping behavior has changed since COVID is something to take careful note of, particularly in how they shop brick and mortar online vs in store. Whether that’s curbside click and collect or Instacart, brands need to have a clear Omni strategy to win these dollars over. For emerging category brands like MUD/WTR, this can be somewhat of an advantage if leveraged correctly. MUD’s bread and butter is digital, having built their brand exclusively online until now, so this can certainly be a strength as it launches into retail.  

If you could give one piece of advice to women in the industry, what would it be?

I think we are often time our biggest critics which makes us incredible leaders and supporters of businesses, but that trait can also get in our way. So, my advice? Raise your hand and go for it. 


Leigh KeithLeigh Keith is the Co-Founder and Chief of Brand & Mission at Perfect Snacks (, makers of fresh-from-the-fridge protein snacks, including Perfect Bar: The Original Refrigerated Protein Bar™. At 19 years old, Leigh — alongside co-founder and older brother Bill — launched the brand that would later go on to revolutionise the $9B protein bar category and build an entirely new set of grab-and-go Fresh Snacking options.

Since launching the brand at just 19 years old, Leigh has played an integral role in Perfect Snacks’ growth and success, spanning all facets and functions of the company, while remaining grounded in the family culture on which the brand was founded. As President, she remains steadfast in building healthy communities from the inside out, which is evident by the Perfect Snacks’ clean ingredient labels, industry accolades, employee volunteer and benefits package, and regular donations/volunteer hours provided to hundreds of community organizations each year.

In 2023, Leigh Keith joined the MUD/WTR board through the Women On Boards (WOB) Project, a non-profit that aims to empower women in business leadership roles and enhance diversity and inclusivity within consume brand boardrooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *