The inner workings of a plant-based company
May 24, 2020
If a burger isn’t made out of meat, then what is it made out of?
Jessica Appelgren, the vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, has fielded this question countless times. After the release of Impossible Burger 2.0 in 2019 and their nationwide partnership with Burger King (amongst other fast-food chains), the quality of Impossible Burger has been questioned.
According to Vox, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey warned consumers that “they are super, highly processed foods.” Brian Niccol, the CEO of Chipotle, went on further to say, “We have spoken to those folks, and unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit in our ‘food with integrity’ principles, because of processing.”
Despite allegations regarding overprocessing, Impossible Burger sales have continued to skyrocket.
“Growth has come from every sales category in which the company does business – independent restaurants, large restaurant chains such as White Castle, Cheesecake Factory and Burger King, and non-commercial outlets such as theme parks, museums, stadiums, and college campuses. As of April 2020, the Impossible Burger is also available in nearly 1,000 supermarkets across the nation,” Appelgren said. “Long term, we plan for Impossible to be sold everywhere that currently sells animal meat. This means expanding rapidly to new countries, grocery stores, and restaurants.”
Additionally, Appelgren and many other Impossible Foods officials continue to champion the health benefits of plant-based meats.
“Impossible products are always as nutritious, if not more, than the product it is trying to replace. Impossible Burger has zero antibiotics, animal hormones, or slaughterhouse contaminants. It has as much bioavailable iron and protein as a comparable serving of ground beef from cows. And unlike ground beef from cows, Impossible Burger is a good source of dietary fiber,” Appelgren said.
Similarly, Beyond Meat strives to meet or exceed the nutritional content of their meat equivalents. All of their products are GMO-free and said to be made out of healthy, plant-based ingredients such as peas, brown rice, beets, and soy.
“[The Beyond Breakfast Sausage] has been a staple in my own household and I’m glad that families can now enjoy this delicious breakfast option at home while feeling great about nutritional wins like 50% less total fat, 35% less saturated fat and sodium, and no cholesterol compared to a leading brand of pork sausage,” said Ethan Brown, the founder, and CEO of Beyond Meat.
Employees from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and many other meatless meat companies are positive that their work not only contributes to the health of the world but also the customer’s well-being.
"The health and nutrition of our consumers have always been a paramount consideration in choosing our ingredients. We are confident that our careful, evidence-based choices have resulted in a burger that is overall better for the consumer than the cow-derived burger it replaces - and vastly better for the health of the planet," Appelgren said.
The hope to provide consumers with a product that they can enjoy eating is a common goal amongst these meatless meat companies. However, when adding revenue and business into the mix, it's reasonable to believe that competition will arise. Beyond Meat's annual revenue increased 5.4 times, jumping from $16.2 million in 2016 to $87.9 million in 2018. They also sell their products in 50 different international countries and have plans to expand later this year.
However, Appelgren is quick to state that Beyond Meat's success will not impact Impossible Food's goals as a company.
"We wish them the best of luck," Appelgren said. "In our eyes, companies that share our mission of saving the environment and eliminating animals from the food chain, are on our side, and we wish them success."