A veggie burger that bleeds. Sounds kinda weird, right? Does anyone actually want this when they can easily go to any number of traditional food joints and order the ‘real thing?’ Well, that’s exactly what Impossible Foods is banking on.
Recently, Impossible Foods unveiled a new production facility in Oakland, CA. At full capacity, it should pump out four million burgers a month, nearly a 250-fold jump from current levels. Clearly, the company is very optimistic that there will be plenty of demand to soak up their juicy burgers.
There’s a lot at stake for companies like Impossible Foods, and not just for their shareholders (they’ve raised $180 million from Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Open Philanthropy Project, amongst others). Livestock production takes an incredible toll on our environment (it accounts for nearly 15 percent of all greenhouse gasses). If we, as a society, hope to flourish on planet Earth, we have to make drastic changes to the way we eat.
Here a few stats that help underpin why Impossible Foods’ success (and others in the plant-based food space) is so critical:
The Impossible Burger uses about 75% less water, generates about 87% fewer greenhouse gasses, and requires around 95% less land than conventional ground beef from cows.
It’s produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol, or artificial flavors.
It doesn’t require the slaughter of animals. (According to a 2013 report from the U.S.D.A, 6.6 million cows were commercially slaughtered in the U.S. in 2012, which results in an average of 18,032 cows killed each day)
‘The way that we’re producing meat now is incredibly destructive. Our whole mission is to reduce the environmental impact of the food system.’ (Patrick Brown, CEO Impossible Foods)
Patrick Brown (Impossible’s CEO) and his team will need to optimize their supply chain and manufacturing process to bring the price of the Impossible Burger on par with conventional beef. To aid that effort, they recently hired Christopher Gregg as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing, who previously worked with Bare Snacks, Babyganics, and Del Monte. Sourcing still has challenges, particularly for heme (the iron-containing molecule is what makes the Impossible Burger bleed and taste like meat). Fortunately, Impossible Foods has addressed this issue by engineering yeast that produces heme, allowing them to reduce the costs and the environmental impact of producing it.
Impossible Foods will also accelerate the development and commercialization of multiple products, in addition to the flagship Impossible Burger. They’re currently working on steaks, fish, cheeses, and pork. They plan to roll out a whole list of new products in the coming years.
In 2017, the plan is to meaningfully expand the number of restaurants they sell to, including chains like Bareburger. The burger has caught the eye of several high-end chefs as well, including New York’s David Chang and San Francisco’s Traci Des Jardins, who have put the burger on their menu.
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