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Hey everyone, Chris here. I’m covering alternative proteins as the alternate Catherine, while she goes all Northern Exposure in Alaska.
I realize that it’s mostly the olds who will get that TV show reference, but that’s actually a good way to start off this newsletter because I want to talk about grandmas. Specifically whether grandmothers are some kind of bellwether for the alternate food market.
Two things happened in the past week that got me thinking about this. First, my own mother, who is herself a grandma (hi, mom!), is in town visiting, and over dinner the other night she told me how much she liked Oatly’s non-dairy ice cream. This stood out because my mother does not typically eat ice cream, let alone ice cream made from oats.
To be fair, my mother is biased. She reads The Spoon regularly because her son works there, and she got the Oatly ice cream recommendation from Catherine in this very newsletter. So she’s probably more hip to the alternative food space than most.
But then on Monday this week, Impossible Foods announced an event called Impossible Grandma’s House. It’s a free event being held at the Century City mall in LA tomorrow to celebrate the launch of Impossible’s ground product at retail. “Come celebrate (and taste) Impossible Foods’ launch in grocery stores! Grandmas unite under one roof to #CookImpossible and share their culinary wisdom,” the invite reads.
Why is a company that counts celebrities like Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Serena Williams among its investors going out to the retail market with grandmas? In LA, no less, and at a mall that is literally across the street from the Creative Artist Agency, one of the most influential talent agencies in the world.
Catherine had a theory, when she wrote:
I think I get what Impossible is going for here. The company is trying to show that its plant-based meat is so versatile and delicious that even traditionalists can easily use it in their favorite family recipes. However, I think the strategy rings untrue, especially since the launch event is at a trendy, glitzy shopping mall and not, say, a community restaurant or local market.
I don’t know if one cancels the other out necessarily. I mean, grandmas like a little glitz now and then, too. But I think there is something to the idea that of getting granny on board the plant-based food wagon. Of anyone’s family, grandparents have been around the longest, and at the risk of painting with too broad a brush, they are the most traditional. If you can get someone who has probably eaten meat and dairy for the better part of six or seven decades to give it up for Impossible or Oatly, then getting the whippersnappers to follow suit should be a lot easier.
Which reminds me — is it really that hard for you to call your grandmother every once in a while?
See Future Food firsthand at SKS next month
Our flagship Smart Kitchen Summit show is mere weeks away. We are hard at work making it the best show of all time, and part of that involves lining up a bunch of great speakers in the alternative meat space. (Get your tickets now! The show always sells out.)
One of those speakers will be David Kay, Senior Manager of Communications and Operations at Memphis Meats. Memphis is working on lab-grown, or cultured meat and made the world’s first cell-based meatball. We posted a Q&A with Kay this week to give you a preview of what he’ll be talking about. And to give you a sneak peak of that sneak peek, here’s an excerpt from that post:
When will we actually be able to eat cell-based meat? When do you guess it will first enter the market and how long will it take before it’s available in your average supermarket?
While we are working as fast as we can to bring a product to market, we are also cognizant that our number one priority as a food company – and as a nascent industry – must be ensuring product safety and consumer trust. Key to this is establishing a sensible regulatory framework. We are committed to providing consumers with Memphis meat through appropriate regulatory channels. While other innovative industries might follow the “move fast and break things” Silicon Valley ethos, we firmly believe that our product release must be done in a responsible and transparent manner.
Hooray for plant-based bacon!
Finally, let’s end my first guest appearance on Future Food with something everyone generally loves — bacon. Or in this case, fake-un.
Hooray Foods is makin’ bacon out of plants, and while it’s just a side hustle for its sole employee right now, bacon is like the holy grail of plant-based meats. Catherine tried it and reported that it was “in the ballpark” of bacon and would pair well on top of an Impossible or Beyond Burger.
I think the bigger point is that with sales of plant-based meat taking off, we’ll start to see more of this very narrow specialization among startups. Burgers and ground beef are already locked up by Impossible and Beyond, but there’s opportunity for startups now who can recreate a killer bacon, or pork chop or chorizo.
Thanks for listening. Catherine will be back next week with pop culture references more suited to millennial tastes (I assume they are all from Tik Tok).