Photo: Impossible Foods.

Last week delivery service Grubhub released its “State of the Plate” report, which detailed popular food trends from the past year.

According to the report, in the U.S., Grubhub’s overall orders of vegan-friendly foods increased by 25 percent in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period the year before. Anyone who follows dining trends knows that consumers are demanding more plant-based options in grocery stores and restaurants. Apparently that demand extends into delivery, as well.

One vegan-friendly food in particular seems to be a Grubhub darling: The Impossible Burger. Grubhub reports that orders for the “bleeding” plant-based meat rose 82 percent in 2019. The Midwest in particular saw a huge uptick in orders (326 percent). Grubhub also noted that the Impossible burger was a popular late-night choice this year, with orders up 529 percent over the same time period last year.

We should take Grubhub’s report with a few hefty grains of salt, though. Since Grubhub conducted the survey, it doesn’t take into account how Impossible and other plant-based foods are doing via Doordash, Uber Eats, etc. However, Grubhub was the #1 delivery service in the country for the vast majority the timeframe covered by the report (Doordash took the title in May).

It’s also important to note that one of the reasons Grubhub is delivering more Impossible burgers this year is simply because the meatless burgers are more widely available. Since May 2018 Impossible has steadily growing, quickly forging partnerships with national chains like Burger King, White Castle, Umami Burger, and Red Robin. All of which could explain the insane 529 percent jump for the meatless burger.

I was particularly interested to see that Impossible was such a popular choice for late-night food delivery. At least for me, when ordering late-night food I typically go for something more indulgent, perhaps even something known for its alcohol soaking-up properties. It seems that, for a growing number of consumers, Impossible qualifies. That’s good news for the Redwood City, CA-based startup, which is trying to appeal to flexitarians and show them that plant-based meat can be just as juicy and delicious as meat from a cow.

One curious thing in the Grubhub report is the complete omission Beyond Meat. Grubhub only mentions the Impossible burger when outlining vegan-friendly options. However, Grubhub delivers from a wide range of restaurants that serve both Beyond burgers and Impossible burgers.

Likely the choice was simply because Beyond’s delivery sales didn’t increase in such eye-popping numbers as Impossible. After all, Impossible had a more dramatic uptick in restaurant partners over the past year. Beyond also gets about 50 percent of its revenue from grocery sales — unlike Impossible, which is just in foodservice for now — meaning it has to split its focus between restaurants and retail.

Despite its shortcomings, Grubhub’s report clearly shows that more and more people are looking to order plant-based food for delivery. As a growing number of companies wake up to this trend and put plant-based meat, milk, and eggs on their menus, customers will have even more options — and Impossible will have even more competition.

Keep up with consumer trends for plant-based dining and subscribe to Future Food, our weekly newsletter offering stories and analysis on the alternate protein landscape.

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