As of tomorrow, you’ll have a lot more opportunities to buy Impossible Foods’ meatless “bleeding” burgers. The company announced via a press conference on Facebook Live today that it will roll out its flagship plant-based beef product to 777 supermarkets in California, Indiana, Illinois and Nevada on April 17. All stores are part of the Albertson’s family, which includes Safeway, Jewel-Osco, and Wegmans. Impossible’s CCO Rachel Konrad noted in the conference that the expansion will put Impossible in almost 1,000 grocery stores nationwide.
This news comes just a few months after Impossible announced a $500 million Series F round — “the largest fundraising round for a food tech company in the history of the world,” according to Konrad. Impossible currently has a total of $1.2 billion in funding.
The plant-based beef will be sold in 12-ounce packages which will cost $8.99 to $9.99, depending on the retailer. Konrad also noted that the product might be available in several different sections of the grocery store — you might find it in the meat section, vegan section, or even the frozen section.
While Impossible has been planning to expand its retail footprint since it first launched in Southern California last fall, it’s no surprise that they’re making a big push now. In fact, Brown stated that the company had actually accelerated the launch in response to the coronavirus. However, he also admitted that COVID-19’s effect on the restaurant industry was challenging for Impossible’s foodservice partners — all 15,000 of them. “It’s been devastating,” Dennis Woodside, the President of Impossible, added.
In an effort to pad sales, Impossible worked with the FDA to allow its restaurant partners to sell uncooked 5-pound bricks of Impossible Foods beef directly to consumers. But that’s a short-term fix, and more a way to help the restaurant augment their sales than anything else.
The time is ripe for Impossible to start concentrating on its grocery presence. “We think retail is going to be a very large business,” said Woodside, noting that the company has added a second line at its manufacturing facility specifically to cater to grocery.
During the conference, Woodside also weighed in on the fact that COVID-19 is also disrupting manufacturing supply chains left and right. Meat production, specifically, has been disrupted by factory shutdowns due to employee sickness. Woodside made a point to contrast that with Impossible’s manufacturing setup, which is automated and therefore “much easier to keep people apart” than in meat processing plants.
Brown also touched on a point that’s been a favorite of alternative meat companies ever since the pandemic hit. He stated that COVID-19 was introduced to the human population through the consumption of wild animals, and that “our reliance on animals as a source of food is not only an environmental disaster… but is at the root of some of the largest public health risks to the human population.”
There’s some pushback against that argument. But one thing that’s not in question, at least for this reporter, is that Impossible burgers are delicious. Sadly since I’m based in Seattle I won’t be able to purchase any Impossible Beef on my next masked grocery run — but at the speed that Impossible is expanding, I have to bet that time isn’t too far away.