Like an ‘80s horror movie, fake blood is about to be everywhere. But I’m not talking about some teenagers’ campsite; I’m talking about at around 1,000 restaurants nationwide. The company behind the “Impossible Burger” – a plant-based burger designed to replicate the taste and texture of meat, even down to the its juicy “bleeding” quality – is making a major expansion to its production facilities that will bring the faux-meat burgers to far more eateries than ever before.
Though the burger is currently at only 11 restaurants, it has made a splash on the scene. David Chang even gave the burger his stamp of approval right out the gate, letting it debut at Momofuku Nishi in July of last year. Since then, the imitation meat has found a home at other hot spots in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. But according to FoodNavigator-USA, Impossible Burger’s footprint is about to expand significantly, as Impossible Foods is planning to use some of the astounding $182 million it secured from investors (including names like Google Ventures and Bill Gates) to open its first commercial-scale manufacturing facility in Oakland later this year that should be able to churn out one million pounds of the juicy burgers per month, considered enough to supply 1,000 restaurants – including “a range of settings, from Michelin-starred places to chain restaurants,” as Impossible communications director Jessica Appelgren suggested.
Even with its currently limited scope, Impossible Foods has come a long way since 2014 when founder and biologist Patrick Brown used “heme” – described as “the molecule that makes meat meat” – which Brown originally sourced from plant matter but the company now produces through yeast, as well as other plant proteins to create a different kind of veggie burger which the company prefers to refer to as “plant-based meat.” At the time, each patty cost a whopping $20 to produce. But though the process has been tweaked to make commercial production more viable, Impossible Burgers were still able to wow the Food & Wine staff when they were demoed at our offices around this time last year. Soon, it sounds like these products will be wowing the general public – and at a far more affordable price.
Assuming the restaurant push is successful, the final frontier would seem to be grocery stores. And though Impossible Foods is thinking that far ahead, the company did tell FoodNavigator that step is probably not on the agenda for at least a year or two. “We’re not even scratching the surface when it comes to opportunities in restaurants,” Appelgren said.