Cooks Venture in Decatur names John Niemann new CEO

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,016 views 

Benton County food company Cooks Venture, a vertically integrated poultry business, announced Wednesday (Aug. 16) the appointment of former Cargill executive John Niemann as its new CEO.

“I am excited to lead Cooks Venture,” Niemann said in a news release. “This business has an impressive opportunity for growth and positive impact, and the chance to create meaningful change and a ‘better for you’ protein through a farm-to-fork regenerative poultry business. I look forward to working with the team to deliver on Cooks Venture’s full potential.”

Niemann worked for Cargill for more than 20 years and held several leadership roles in the U.S. and overseas.

Among his recent business endeavors are Prime Dirt Midwest and Asido Biologicals, where he’ll remain an investor and board director.

Niemann replaces New York food executive Matthew Wadiak, the former co-founder and COO of meal-kit company Blue Apron. Wadiak launched Cooks Venture in 2019 with business principles rooted in regenerative agriculture and supply chain transparency.

“I’ve been working seven days a week for almost 15 years transforming food and supply chain that’s better for the planet and our farmers,” Wadiak wrote in an email to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “I’ll be announcing my next venture in the weeks and months to come.”

Cooks Venture operations are based in Decatur and span northeast Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas, including a nearly 800-acre Arkansas farm (the former Peterson Farms) and a 33,000-square-foot processing plant in Jay.

More details about the company’s genesis in Benton County are in this Northwest Arkansas Business Journal profile in March 2021 of Cooks Venture executive Blake Evans.