Burgers Are Just the Beginning: Impossible Foods Wants to Eliminate All Animals From the Food System
Impossible Foods needed capital. You would too if the second largest burger chain in America had just announced plans to take your plant-based burger nationwide by the end of the year — especially at a time where headlines about Impossible Burger shortages seem as prevalent as news of Burger King’s rollout. Luckily, as the darling of the current plant-based burger boom (and our personal taste-test winner), Impossible Foods appears to have no problem finding investors. This morning, they officially announced a new round of $300 million in funding including celebrities so A-list they chose to go alphabetical to avoid offending anyone: Jay Brown, Kirk Cousins, Paul George, Jay-Z, Trevor Noah, Alexis Ohanian, Kal Penn, Katy Perry, Questlove, Ruby Rose, Phil Rosenthal, Jaden Smith, Serena Williams, Will.i.am, and Zedd.
But though Impossible Foods cites “scorching demand” as the primary need for additional cash flow — including the Burger King Impossible Whopper rollout, its Red Robin launch, and explosive growth in Asia — what is often overlooked is the company’s continued research and development beyond burger patties. “Impossible Food’s core mission is to eliminate the need of using animals in the food system by 2035, and every funding round gets us closer to this goal,” CFO David Lee told me via email. “R&D will certainly also receive support from this round.”
Specifically, speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, Lee added, “We have an entire dairy platform within our R&D capabilities, but our focus is on commercializing our products for meat first. We haven’t yet announced the launch of our first dairy products yet, but stay tuned.” Indeed, as FoodNavigator explains, CEO and founder Patrick Brown cofounded the plant-based cheese brand Kite Hill in 2010, a year before Impossible Foods. So plant-based dairy is certainly a world he knows. And the site also points to an Impossible Foods patent from 2015 for making plant-based milks and cheeses.
But frankly, you don’t even have to dig that deep to see Impossible’s ambitions. As Lee said himself, the plan is to eliminate the need for all animals in the next 16 years. That’s not just burger patties: That’s beef and dairy and ostensibly chicken and fish and maybe even turtle soup. For now, however, it seems beef is still, to borrow a slogan, what's for dinner at Impossible. “While our R&D platform continues to experiment beyond just one product, we haven’t released a schedule yet of the new products to come, and are still focusing much of our efforts on all of the opportunity that innovating with beef holds,” Lee explained to me. So while this latest $300 million might be focused burgers, in a broader sense, this funding is just one more step towards a potential Impossible Foods takeover.