Impossible Foods Details Strategic Roadmap
Impossible Foods published its 2018 impact report, an annual update on the food tech startup’s mission, business and strategic roadmap.
Impossible Foods makes meat directly from plants—with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The company uses modern science and technology to create wholesome and nutritious food, restore natural ecosystems and feed a growing population sustainably.
The Impossible Burger is now available in more than 3,000 locations in the United States, Hong Kong and Macao -- up from only 40 restaurants one year ago. Americans have eaten about 6 million Impossible Burgers since July 2016, when the product first debuted to standing-room-only crowds at Chef David Chang’s trendsetting restaurant Momofuku Nishi in New York City.
From white glove … to White Castle
The Impossible Burger is now served in a wide range of restaurants—from taquerias and food trucks to fine-dining establishments and America’s most beloved “better burger” concepts Fatburger, Umami Burger, Hopdoddy, The Counter, and B Spot (the Midwest burger restaurant owned by Chef Michael Symon). Chefs have launched menu items such as Impossible tacos, pizza, empanadas, Cantonese baos, noodle dishes, kefta, meatballs, nachos, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches and other fare.
Earlier this year, America’s original fast-food restaurant, White Castle, added the Impossible Slider to menus in 140 restaurants nationwide. More fast-food restaurants and casual chains will begin serving the Impossible Burger later this year.
To meet growing demand, Impossible Foods is hiring a second shift of employees to double production at its first large-scale factory, in Oakland, California. The company has raised more than $450 million in funding since the company was founded.
CEO and Founder Dr. Patrick Brown said Impossible Foods is on track to eliminate the need for animals as a food production technology by 2035.
“Until today, the only technology we’ve known that can turn plants into meat has been animals -- but cows, pigs, chicken and fish are terribly inefficient at turning plants into meat. We now know how to make meat better—by making it directly from plants,” Brown says. “In eliminating the need for animals in the food system, we will return massive tracts of land to biodiversity, reduce food insecurity and global conflicts, and let the Earth heal itself. Eliminating the need for animals in the food system is the easiest path to preserve our planet -- without compromising quality of life.”
Heme: the awesome molecule you eat every single day
The key ingredient to making meat sustainably is heme—an essential molecular building block of life, one of nature’s most ubiquitous molecules. It is most familiar as the molecule that carries oxygen in your blood.
Heme is in virtually all the food we eat, and it’s particularly abundant in animal muscle. It’s the abundance of heme that makes meat (both meat from animal carcasses and Impossible Foods’ meat from plants) uniquely delicious and craveable. Heme is totally safe to eat; in fact, it’s required for life.
To satisfy the global demand for meat at a fraction of the environmental impact, Impossible Foods developed a far more sustainable, scalable and affordable way to make heme and therefore meat, without the catastrophic environmental impact of livestock. The company genetically engineers and ferments yeast to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin.
The heme in the Impossible Burger is identical to the essential heme humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat—and while the Impossible burger delivers all the craveable depth of beef, it uses far fewer resources.
Producing the Impossible Burger uses about 75% less water, generates about 87% less greenhouse gases and requires around 95% less land than conventional ground beef from cows.
The 2018 sustainability report, “Mission: Earth,” candidly charts Impossible Foods’ progress—including its biggest challenges—in the pursuit of its 2035 vision.
To generate the data in the 2018 sustainability report, Impossible Foods partnered with researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to understand the impacts of Impossible Foods’ product at a national scale. The report also includes data verified by the third-party life cycle analysis firm Quantis.
Objective researchers (academics and experts who have no stake in Impossible Foods) found that if Americans replace 50% of ground beef from cows with Impossible Foods’ plant-based beef—halfway to the company’s 2035 goal—we would:
Spare the atmosphere as many as 45 million metric tons of carbon—the equivalent of removing the emissions of up to 11 million drivers in the United States for a full year
Save 3.2 trillion gallons of water—the equivalent of the amount of water used by up to 90 million Americans in one year
Release as many as 190,000 square kilometers of land now being used for livestock and the crops they consume—a land area the size of New England, which could be restored to healthy wildlife habitat, reducing atmospheric carbon in the process.
Impossible Foods’ 2018 report also provides details about the company’s fledgling efforts to contribute to communities where it does business. The startup launched partnerships this year with food banks that serve those affected by food insecurity, including the nation’s largest food bank, in Alameda County, Calif. Impossible Foods is committed to expanding its programs from Northern California to additional food banks nationwide.