Trader Joe’s, the quirky and beloved supermarket chain, announced yesterday that it now carries Impossible Foods’ plant-based ground beef (h/t to Business Insider). But TJ’s is just one stop for Impossible’s aggressive expansion plans this year as the company said as part of yesterday’s news that it plans to expand its retail presence 50x this year alone.
The company has been aggressive with its retail growth throughout this year, and that appears to be accelerating. In April, Impossible was at 1,000 retail locations. In May that number bumped up to 2,700. In June that number reached 3,000, and as part of yesterday’s news Impossible said it was now available in 5,000 stores. (Trader Joe’s has 503 locations.)
Not bad for a product that was only available at select restaurants just last year.
This rapid retail rollout across the U.S. coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic that helped create a surge in consumption of plant-based products. At the same time, the pandemic has resurfaced ethical issues around the production of animal-based meat here in the U.S., especially as meat packing facilities became hot spots for coronavirus transmissions.
In addition to being more available at grocery stores, Impossible launched its own direct to consumer sales channel, allowing consumers to buy its burgers in bulk.
It’s been a busy year all around for plant-based meats. Beyond Meat created its own bulk packaging, bringing the price of its plant-based burgers down closer to traditional meat. Beyond also launched another plant-based chicken pilot with KFC in Southern California, and started selling plant-based sausage at retail. Impossible’s plant-based sausage is now featured in Burger King and Starbucks’ breakfast sandwiches and is available to all restaurants in the U.S.
With a little less than half a year remaining in 2020, I expect the news around plant-based won’t be slowing down anytime soon.