Impossible Foods scales retail with coronavirus-fueled meat supply chain issues

Impossible Foods CEO: New plant-based products have reached 22,000 outlets in two weeks

Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown on the new partnership with Starbucks and how the meatless industry survived coronavirus.

With meat supply chain issues and price increases as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, plant-based food companies continue to scale.

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Redwood City, California,-based Impossible Foods has bolstered its retail presence, expanding from 150 to nearly 5,000 stores in nearly three months, Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown told FOX Business on Wednesday.

Packages of beef are displayed for sale alongside the plant-based Impossible Burger. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images). 

“A particularly disruptive impact on the supply chain of animal-based meat production driving up those prices and causing a lot of shortages definitely raised consumers' interest and attention to plant-based meat products,” Brown told FOX Businesses' Neil Cavuto.

WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOODS? 

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“People have shifted quite a bit to online ordering and retail," Brown said. "We've moved our business very, very fast into retail. A large majority of our consumers are meat-eaters, and a large majority, once they try our products, become repeat customers. So there's a positive feedback effect that's also driving the demand."

STARBUCKS ADDS PLANT-BASED MEAT TO US MENU 

Fresh meat alternatives such as veggie burgers or plant-based patties made by startups like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat saw a 148.9 percent increase year-over-year in the one-week period ending June 13 and a 223.3 percent year-over-year increase in the 15-week period ending June 13, according to the latest data from Nielsen.

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Impossible Foods on Tuesday announced a major partnership with Starbucks, which will now carry an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich made with Impossible's imitation sausage at more than 15,000 of the chain’s coffee shops.

The news comes weeks after Impossible Foods debuted a similar breakfast sandwich with its plant-based pork at Burger King restaurants nationwide in addition to on menus at Red Robin, White Castle and Qboba. What's more, Impossible Burger meat, made with a molecule called heme that makes it look and bleed like real beef, is on sale at more than 1,000 Kroger grocery stores.

Similarly, plant-based meat competitor Beyond Meat had its imitation sausage breakfast sandwiches sold at Dunkin’ and for a limited time at McDonald’s.

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And more people seem to be purchasing menu items cooked with meat alternatives at restaurants and fast-food chains. Indeed, fully cooked meat alternatives, which include menu items like Burger King’s Impossible Whopper or Dunkin’s meatless Beyond breakfast sandwich, saw a 48.1 percent year-over-year increase in the 15-week period ending June 13, according to Nielsen.

Brown said last year the company was “dead serious about our mission to eliminate the need for animals in the food chain by 2035.”

But the meat industry is still on track to feed demand in the coming years. Global meat production is estimated to increase by 16 percent in 2025 compared to a decade ago, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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