With years of experience leading research and development for top companies in the food and beverage industry (PepsiCo Foods and Campbell Soup), Georgia Tech alumnus Carlos Barroso has recently become intrigued by vegan food and how delicious it can be.
Barroso, who earned his BS from the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 1980 with highest honors, now runs his own consulting company, CJB and Associates, which services leading companies as well as innovative startups. These firms include biological sciences companies that are developing sustainable food products from fermented algae as well as cultured meat and fish grown from cells in the lab.
As a consultant and mentor to entrepreneurs in product R&D, testing, and innovation, Barroso draws on his chemical engineering background to help them scale up, making food products that both taste good and are affordable to the masses. “If you can’t do those things, then you don’t have a product, just some interesting science,” he says.
Barroso, who eats a vegan diet two-thirds of the time, says, “What’s behind the growth of vegan meals is the number of people who eat meat but want to take a few days break from it. The quality of vegan meals is so much better now. The days of just eating tofu are long gone.”
During his years in the food and beverage industry, Barroso says he has developed a well-trained palette that can determine if recipes are well balanced and likely to be popular. “I love the idea of developing a recipe, using science to perfect it, and then actually seeing the product on the shelf.”
He adds: “I love what I do, helping food become better and healthier. To me, it’s not work, but if people want to pay me for it, that’s okay too.”
From Corporate to Consulting
Barroso founded CJB and Associates in between his tenures at PepsiCo, where he served as senior vice president of R&D for Global PepsiCo Foods (including Frito-Lay North America and Quaker Foods and Snacks) from 1996 to 2009, and Campbell Soup, where he was senior vice president of global R&D and quality from 2013 to 2018.
He resurrected CJB after retiring from Campbell last year. Since its creation, CJB’s clients have included major companies including Walmart, Weight Watchers, Popchips, and Starbucks as well as startup companies and everything in between.
A self-described “foodie” who enjoys evaluating recipes when he eats out, Barroso also serves as an advisor of Monell Chemical Senses Center, which studies smell and how taste buds work. His other roles including advising the Nutrition Capital Network and Foodspace+Co, an incubator for food-based startups in San Jose, California.
Barroso started his career at Procter & Gamble (P&G), where he spent 16 years, holding roles of increasing responsibility in the company’s paper and coffee divisions in the U.S., Italy, and France, rising to associate director of R&D.
Barroso says he loves R&D, but that it’s not for everyone. “Some people want to go into the office and know exactly what they need to do that day,” he says. “How do you know what to do in research and development. That’s a hard question to answer when your job is largely doing new things. By design, you don’t what’s going to happen or how experiments will turn out. Some people find that uncomfortable, but people in R&D love that uncertainty in discovery and invention.”
During his career, he has received two patents related to his work on improving flavors as well as one involving a feminine hygiene product when he worked in P&G’s paper products division.
Barroso, who was born in Cuba but raised in the United States, now resides in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Kay Colbert, a psychotherapist. The couple have raised two children, and have a niece, Maya Barroso, who earned her BS at ChBE in 2018.
“I helped inspire Maya to get into the food business, and now she is working for Mars as site project engineer in gum and confectionary,” he says.
A trustee of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and member of the ChBE External Advisory Board, Barroso played a key role in increasing the recruitment of Georgia Tech graduates during his years at P&G and PepsiCo. “Chemical Engineering prepares you for anything you want to do,” says Barroso, who also holds an MBA from Arizona State University.