Impossible Foods wants to change the world, or at least change the “meat” we eat.
The Silicon Valley firm’s flagship product, the Impossible Burger, is a ground beef substitute currently served in thousands of restaurants around the world – from Michelin star venues to Burger King drive-throughs. The firm is ramping up production and is being met with insatiable demand; restaurants have even reported trouble securing the product. Moreover, Impossible Foods has been the most visited company page on the SharesPost platform over the last six months.
Clearly something disruptive is happening, so we set out to compare this plant-based meat to the traditional, all-American burger. We visited locations serving Impossible Burgers near SharesPost’ HQ in downtown San Francisco using our feet-on-the-street approach to research. The result: The Impossible Burger gets faux beef right. In our informal side-by-side comparison of a real burger and an Impossible burger, we couldn’t tell the difference. Some of us even ordered extra sliders - “make it Impossible.”
Impossible Foods’ business strategy appears to be one with worldwide ramifications. The aggregate global market for animal protein (meat, poultry, and fish) is estimated to be valued at over $70 trillion – with a “T” – by 2025, according to Grand View Research. While any part of that figure could be substantial, Impossible is seeking to take the lion’s share. As it claims, Impossible wants to completely replace the millennia-old animal agricultural system.
The company’s goal also aligns with the environmental consciousness that is changing consumer behavior across the world. Impossible Burger creates 89 percent less emissions, uses 87 percent less water, and takes up 96 percent less land compared to the beef industry, according to company figures. With carbon-conscious millennials now the plurality of global consumers, Impossible may be poised to ride macro tailwinds. That said, the company has a long road ahead to sate the world’s varied palates. It has yet to release any poultry or fish substitutes and is currently facing bottlenecks in production.
To date, Impossible Foods has raised about $777 million, which includes three debt financings. Current investors include tradition venture capitalists Khosla Ventures, Gates Ventures, Viking Global, and GV, as well as celebrities including Serena Williams, Katy Perry, and Jay-Z.
The company does face real challenges. Impossible Foods is facing off with newly public Beyond Meat and food titans Kellogg, Tyson, JBS, and Nestle in the pursuit of capturing market share in this emerging vertical. Further, it’s important to remember Impossible is not the first mover in the space. Past attempts at imitation burgers have not achieved widespread acceptance among ever-shifting consumers. Still, the company appears to have products that are clearly whetting the appetite of consumers and investors.
SharesPost Research will be publishing an in-depth overview of Impossible Foods in the weeks to come– stay tuned.
James Cheap is a research analyst at SharesPost.
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