Impossible Foods is now taking concrete steps towards its goal of replacing animal agriculture by cutting the price of its plant-based “bleeding” burgers. The Redwood City, California-based startup said today in a press release that it was slashing prices an average of 15 percent across all U.S. foodservice products (not including retail). The company is also rolling out new products, including quarter-pound and third-pound versions of its plant-based “bleeding” burger patty.
If you’ve ever ordered an Impossible burger out at a restaurant, odds are you’ve had to pay an upcharge. At fast-food spots like Burger King, subbing an Impossible patty is a roughly $1.75 add-on — but I’ve seen upcharges as steep as $5 at some higher-end burger joints. That premium poses a significant hurdle for Impossible Foods, whose long-term goal is to reach price parity with even industrially produced “cheap” beef.
Dr. Pat Brown, CEO and founder of Impossible Foods, hasn’t been shy about his company’s goal to usurp industrial animal agriculture. “Today’s price cut is just the latest step toward our goal of eliminating animals in the food system,” Brown stated in the press release. He also said that the company would continue to drive down prices through economies of scale until they could undercut the cost of conventional ground beef from cows.
That’s ambitious, for sure. But Impossible is certainly doing its darndest to establish its largest footprint possible. Over the past year, the company has forged new partnerships at an astounding speed, especially with high volume, fast-food chains. Its plant-based burger is now on menus at thousands of restaurants, including Burger King, Qdoba, White Castle, and, as of last month, Disneyland Resorts. The startup has also set its sights on international expansion in both Europe and Asia — including China.
With great fast-food growth comes great responsibility. (That’s how the expression goes, right?) The more partners Impossible gains, the more damaging it would be if the company hit another embarrassing product shortage. Impossible has for some time been aware of its need to dramatically increase production capacity in order to avoid future shortages. It seems that in doing so, the company is already beginning to reap the benefits of economies of scale —namely, cheaper plant-based beef for you and me.
When we interviewed Brown at CES in 2019, he called out price cuts as a key step in achieving Impossible’s goal: to replace traditional animal agriculture by 2035. Price parity is critical if plant-based meat is ever going to usurp cheap, delicious beef. Flexitarians — which are the target demographic for Impossible Foods — might try the Impossible burger once or twice out of curiosity, but it’s hard to convince them to make a behavioral change that will end up costing them significantly. Especially since Impossible burgers aren’t really healthier than their meaty counterparts.
Restaurants are conscious of this barrier. For example, Burger King added the Impossible Whopper to its 2 for $6 deal. I’m sure that BK and others are hoping that the Impossible price cuts will mean not only cheaper plant-based meat for all, but also more repeat customers coming in their doors.