There’s a new silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic: more of us can now get our hands on Impossible Foods’ plant-based beef. The startup announced today on Linkedin that the FDA will now allow all of Impossible’s restaurant partners to sell the Impossible Burger directly to customers in 5 lb. bricks, 1/4 lb. patties, and 1/3 lb. patties.
In order to sell the burgers, the restaurants must give customers a printed out copy of a PDF outlining the ingredients and allergens in the Impossible Burger. Pricing is at the discretion of the restaurant itself.
Admittedly, this initiative is probably not going to radically alter the course of any foodservice establishments. Restaurants are struggling to stay afloat after COVID-19 has forced the vast majority to shutter their dining rooms and pivot to takeout and delivery only. The numbers are sobering: over 3 percent of restaurants are already permanently closed, and NPD reports that restaurant customer transactions declined by 42 percent in the last week of March, compared to the same time period the year before.
Depending on how they price the uncooked Impossible Burger, restaurants are still likely able to make more money selling a finished Impossible product (i.e., a cheeseburger) than the raw material. But if they can’t sell enough of those, selling the raw product is a good way to get rid of inventory — especially if the restaurant is preparing to shut its doors, either temporarily or permanently.
In the end, this move might be more of a boon for consumers. According to NPR, sales of plant-based meat were up roughly 280 percent over the first two weeks of March. However, Impossible Foods’ ground “meat” is only available in select grocery stores in California and mid-Atlantic states. At the same time, over 15,000 restaurants sell Impossible Foods. If they do choose to sell to customers, that will dramatically increase the number of people who can buy uncooked Impossible “meat” to cook at home.
In Seattle, I have been sadly unable to get my hands on the plant-based “bleeding” burgers (outside of restaurants). Impossible’s new initiative will give folks like me, who love Impossible burgers and want to find ways to support their local restaurants, another opportunity to do so. It may be a relatively small silver lining, but in times like these we’ll take what we can get.
You can search for nearby restaurants that sell Impossible Burgers here. Give them a ring to see if they’re selling the raw plant-based burgers, and how much it’ll cost you to get your heme fix.