Eat an Impossible Burger, save the world

23

April, 2019

23rd April 2019

Impossible Foods is on a purpose-driven mission to save the planet by reducing people’s consumption of meat. The company has created the Impossible Burger – a plant-based patty that tastes impossibly meaty and is one of this year’s most talked about tech innovations.

Impossible Foods launched in 2011 with an ambitious goal: to replace meat with meat made from plants – and save the planet in the process.

Global demand for meat is taking its toll on the environment, and our health. As Rebekah Moses, senior manager of impact strategy at Impossible Foods, told Fast Company: “If most of the land that’s used for cattle feed were to be left alone … to re-vegetate and actually store carbon in trees and grasslands, it’s not an exaggeration to say that we could set the clock back on climate change through food choice alone.”

Impossible Foods says it’s unrealistic to expect meat lovers to give up the foods they love. So, it spent five years inventing the Impossible Burger, which launched in 2016. Early prototypes tasted terrible, but eventually the company found a way of mass-producing heme – the magic ingredient that causes the juiciness and aromas of meat.

Heme is the friendly non-animal name for soy leghemoglobin – a globin, just like haemoglobin, which makes blood red. Heme is haemoglobin’s plant-based equivalent, and Impossible Foods has found a way to extract it from soybeans.

The new-and-improved Impossible Burger 2.0 launched in January 2019, stealing the show at this year’s CES where it won Best of Show ahead of 4,400 companies exhibiting new products. Impossible Burger 2.0 requires 75% less water, 95% less land, and generates 87% lower greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional cow burger, according to Impossible Foods.

The founder of Impossible Foods, Patrick Brown, leads a team of over 100 scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley. The company claims its real ‘product’, or the measure by which it determines success, is a “thriving planet for future generations”. It’s on a mission to restore biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change by reducing consumption of meat made from animals.

To achieve this goal, Impossible Foods isn’t just targeting vegans – it wants to win over meat lovers, which is a far bigger market.

“We’re after 100% of the market, not a niche of people avoiding meat or being health conscious,” says Brown.

“Our biggest competition, the cow, isn’t iterating at all.”

It’s doing this by scaling up slowly, learning and iterating along the way. It has doubled down on a single product, the Impossible Burger, conducting 26,000 blind taste tests in a quest to continually improve the recipe. When the Impossible Burger was finally ready to launch in 2016, supply was limited to just four high-profile restaurants – including David Chang’s Momofuku in New York.

It’s also employing the language of tech startups to tell the Impossible story: Impossible Burger 2.0 is positioned as a “product upgrade”, making it as worthy of media hype as any Apple release.

As Brown says: “Our cycle of innovation can be much faster than that of the electronics industry … We don’t have to worry about legacy system upgrades – and our biggest competition, the cow, isn’t iterating at all.”

There’s no doubt the world is eating too much meat. Australians eat three times more meat per person than the global average: 93 kilograms versus 35 kilograms. The average American eats around three burgers worth of minced beef per week, which equates to 50 billion burgers per year.

Yet a growing number of people are beginning to question their appetite for meat. Not only does meat production create carbon dioxide emissions, the World Health Organisation has classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

As a result, the market for meat substitutes is expected to grow to US$6.4 billion worldwide by 2023, according to CNBC. Beyond Meat is now a US$550 million brand, while Nestle is working on its own plant-based burger.

Meanwhile, Impossible Foods is ramping up production at its manufacturing plant in Oakland, which will soon be able to produce nearly two million kilograms of plant-based meats per month.

Impossible Burgers are now sold at over 500 restaurants in the United States, and restaurants in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. On 1 April 2019, the Impossible Whopper debuted at Burger King – the latest milestone in Impossible Foods’ quest to replace conventional meat with plant-based substitutes by 2035.

Impossible Burger has many fans, but detractors say plant-based meats are overly processed, sodium-filled, lab-made and gross.

“It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. It’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food engineers and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory – not the kitchen, farm or field,” writes food journalist Joanna Blythman for The Guardian.

“It’s the antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory.”

Yet with every iteration, Impossible Foods is another step closer to its goal of “beating the cow” in blind taste tests. Today, the company has revenue of US$6.5 million and has raised $450 million in debt and equity, which it will use to fuel further expansion – starting with distribution at US grocery stores.

The Impossible Burger is just the beginning. Impossible Foods is already working on plant-based versions of pork, chicken, fish, cheese and eggs. And its next product launch is rumoured to be steak, made from plants. Watch this space.

Why It Matters

  • The Economist has declared 2019 the ‘Year of the Vegan’ as more people give up animal-based food products in favour of lab-grown meat and alternative milks like Oatly.
  • Impossible Foods is targeting a far bigger market than vegans – it is targeting meat lovers who realize plant-based foods are better for their health, and the environment.
  • Impossible Foods is positioning its products as an exciting technology innovation, and real meat as an “inefficient, animal-based technology” –generating lots of media hype in the process.
  • The company spent many years and millions of dollars developing heme from soybeans, and it’s the secret sauce that makes Impossible Burgers so juicy and bloody.
  • A recent Ketchum survey found 62% of Americans – and 71% of millennials – would happily try a food made using technology.
  • By 2035, Impossible Foods aims to fully replace conventional meat with plant-based substitutes.

Credits

Categories

Share

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share via Email

Related Stories

Technology

Why millennials love paying for Lemonade insurance

Fashion

How Everlane’s radically transparent ethos is upending fashion

Products

Recyclable glasses made simple from Dresden

Products

Eat an Impossible Burger, save the world

News

Brands Disrupting the World: book now for our next ONEtalks

Technology

Sex education you can trust: how Clue is tackling taboos

Products

Drinking Oatly is more than a trend. It’s a "paradigm shift"

Environments

Mobile is at the heart of Nike’s House of Innovation stores

News

The psychology of selling to the world’s ultra-rich

Fashion

The Phluid Project: Shaking up the gendered world of fashion

News

The One Centre acquires digital media agency Effilab Australia

Technology

Koho is taking back your dreams from the banks that stole them

Products

Forget buying a Mercedes-Benz. Why not subscribe?

Products

Behind the meteoric rise of the world's biggest vaping brand JUUL

Environments

Cult Korean eyewear label Gentle Monster takes on London

News

The One Centre presents the brands disrupting the world at ONEtalks

Technology

Uber has a better way to map data – and anyone can use it

Products

Forget ‘stoner’ – MedMen is taking marijuana mainstream

News

Four pillars of brand success – John Ford writes for Startup Daily

Collaborations

Virtual celebrity Lil Miquela partners with Japanese label Ambush

Content

Oakley’s ode to obsession

Advertising

"Will finds a way" with Under Armour

Environments

Kengo Kuma is purifying the air at Milan Design Week

Architecture

Facebook is building Willow Village. Would you live there?

Advertising

Apple recruits Spike Jonze to welcome you home

Products

Dot Watch is disrupting the Braille market

Architecture

Is Hyundai Pavilion the darkest building on earth?

News

The One Centre presents ‘Disruption Needs Construction’ at Sydney Design Festival 2018

Environments

Nissan brings its tech to life with self-driving slippers

Content

Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia to sue the Trump administration

News

The One Centre is hiring creative directors. Here’s our manifesto.

Environments

Tiffany & Co brings Breakfast at Tiffany’s to life with luxury collection

Music

Behind the scenes of OK Go’s ‘Obsession’

Content

The North Face combines daydreams and free skiing stunts in a mesmerising film

Technology

Nike is fighting bots with augmented reality

News

"The only way is up" - John Ford writes for Mumbrella

Architecture

Fashion house Yves Saint Laurent opens a museum in Marrakech

Content

Volkswagen explores the father/son relationship in an emotional film

Technology

Meet Norman, a WebVR tool for doodling in space

News

“Give Dove a break” - John Ford speaks to CMO magazine

Advertising

Guinness saddles up Compton Cowboys for latest Made of More film

Environments

Minimalist Japanese brand Muji expands empire with fresh food market

Technology

Teenage Engineering

Art & Design

A forest where gods live

Products

Louis Vuitton teams with Supreme for ultimate brand collaboration

Technology

Technological Nature

Technology

Playful Palette

Advertising

Nike creates graphic feast for Air Max

Advertising

Volvo returns to safety positioning in masterpiece film for the new XC6O

Products

Ikea to employ Syrian refugees in social sustainability project

Content

Screens of the future

Architecture

Apple’s extravagant new campus brings brand values to life

Products

Transformative Appetite

Entertainment

Dove launches Real Beauty Productions to tell stories of real women

Technology

Rapid Liquid Printing

Special Review

The brands coming out to support the LGBT community

Entertainment

Abstract. The Art of Design

Advertising

Target creates mini-musical spectacular for Christmas

Art & Design

Nissan creates mobile workspace

Advertising

Lincoln Motor Company taps Annie Leibovitz for campaign

Experiences

Braun creates hypnotic installation for London Design Week

Entertainment

BMW Films returns with an explosive short film

Experiences

Adidas Republic of Sports launches in China

Technology

Convert the world around you to Pantone with the new Pantone App

Experiences

Moleskine opens a cafe for creatives

Advertising

We're the Superhumans: Channel 4 returns with film series

Products

Activewear brand Lululemon expands into beer

Experiences

Tiger Beer launches NYC pop-up store to showcase best of Asia

Advertising

P&G rolls out strong film in ongoing Thank You, Mom campaign

Products

Ikea launches brand collaborations

Products

Adidas creates sustainable shoes made from ocean plastics

Content

Google launches 360-degree interactive animated short film

Music

Coca-Cola makes music with W Hotels

Advertising

Save The Children returns with harrowing refugee film

Art & Design

COS creates "show-stopping" installation

Environments

Uniqlo aims for Utopia with flagship store relaunch

Technology

McDonald's transforms Happy Meal toy into VR experience

Architecture

Samsung launches immersive brand experience store

Entertainment

Lo and Behold: Netscout launches branded film at Sundance Film Festival

Art & Design

Burberry teams with Apple to launch dedicated Music channel

Experiences

Apple Watch creates blooming installation at Selfridges

Experiences

Nike targets women with luxury workout experience

Art & Design

HSBC soars in stunning elevator film

Experiences

The Four Seasons Jet is the ultimate brand experience

Experiences

Savage Beauty: Iconic Alexander McQueen honoured in exhibition

Content

Samsung film is a beautiful tribute to the power of technology

Experiences

Converse creates global exhibition to celebrate iconic shoe

Experiences

Leica and Moncler create Monumental exhibition

Advertising

Wind Mobile celebrates human connections

Products

Lego targets architects with new product range

Products

GE revives iconic Moon Boot to celebrate role

Experiences

Nike's ‘Phenomenal’ World Cup experience

Architecture

Louis Vuitton Museum: a new level of branded art

Experiences

GQ to groom men with branded barbershop

Experiences

BMW's iconic Art Cars Project launches global tour

Art & Design

Chipotle turns to literature in new project

Entertainment

Cornetto spreads the love with film series

Music

Stella hits high note with Chalice Symphony

Experiences

NRMA opens Crashed Car Showroom

Content

Intel urges audiences to 'look inside' in film series

Content

Net-A-Porter launches glossy print magazine

Entertainment

The Lego Movie hits cinemas worldwide

Advertising

Guinness creates short film 'The Sapeurs'

Products

Dom Perignon and Jeff Koons create art

Content

Patagonia film celebrates the stories we wear

Experiences

Louis Vuitton's controversial exhibition

Advertising

Chipotle wages war on Big Food

Content

AT&T's brutal new film to stop texting and driving

Content

BA tugs the heartstrings with Visit Mum film

Advertising

Leave the world behind with Volvo

Content

IBM & The World's Smallest Film

Environments

Burberry merges digital and physical worlds

Advertising

Iconic landmark is on song with The Ship Song

Entertainment

Bond's Skyfall is ultimate branded entertainment

Entertainment

Red Bull goes Stratospheric

Experiences

Audi showcases the future in Spheres

Entertainment

AT&T unveils transmedia experience Daybreak

Experiences

Google experiments with art and science

Experiences

GE asks Australians for Two Words

Music

Coca-Cola Moves to the Beat of London

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry

Ground Floor,
71 York St
Sydney NSW 2000
T +61 2 8096 9700
hello@theonecentre.com

for updates on The One Centre Group and our publications.

Back to top

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry