Headquarters: Redwood City, California
Impossible Foods is on a mission to positively impact people and the planet by making delicious, nutritious meat from plants with a fraction of the environmental footprint of meat from animals. The privately-held food company was founded in 2011 to combat climate change by taking a scientific approach to making the world’s best meat — from plants. Every nugget, burger, and patty they sell uses less land and water and generates less greenhouse gas emissions compared to the animal version. Impossible Foods makes its plant-based chicken, beef, and pork products for every meal — breakfast, lunch and dinner — with a goal of replicating the flavors, textures, and cooking characteristics that meat eaters crave. Impossible Foods products are designed in California, produced in California and the Midwest with U.S. and global ingredients, and are available in the United States, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
The production of traditional meat is a major contributor to environmental degradation, requiring significant amounts of land, water, and energy, and is responsible for considerable greenhouse gas emissions. There are growing concerns regarding animal welfare in livestock farming and the sustainability of meat as a source of nutrition given the expanding global population. Additionally, the risk of zoonotic diseases associated with animal farming has become more apparent, as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There's also an increasing consumer demand for diets that either limit or completely eschew animal products for health, ethical, or environmental reasons.
Impossible Foods addresses these issues by creating plant-based alternatives to meat that aim to replicate the sensory experience of animal products. Their products use proteins, fats, and nutrients from plants, which generally require fewer resources to produce than animal farming. By leveraging scientific innovation, such as the use of heme from soy plants to mimic the flavor of meat, they offer a sustainable and potentially healthier option that reduces the strain on the environment. This approach also circumvents the ethical concerns of animal farming and mitigates the risk of zoonotic diseases. Through their products, Impossible Foods offers a solution that caters to the increasing consumer interest in food that is conscious of health, animal welfare, and the planet.
“[T]here are millions of non-billionaires out there who are very, very supportive of our mission but they don’t have a chance to share in our success,” Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown said in a recent interview with Forbes. “They would love to support the future of their planet and their kids and grandkids’ future, but they can’t invest in Impossible Foods. I don’t like that.”
Impossible Foods offers seven different plant-based meat products including beef, sausage, chicken, pork, meatballs, Impossible branded packaged meals, and third party packaged meals with Impossible Foods’ products.
The company launched its first ground beef product in 2016, which is comprised of soy, heme, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and several binding substances. Impossible Foods offers this alternative in two forms: as ground meat and as patties.
The company asserts that their plant-based beef has a considerably reduced impact on the environment compared to traditional animal meat. According to Impossible Foods’ data, producing their product necessitates 96% less land, 92% less water, and generates 91% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2021, Impossible Foods introduced a pork alternative that shares many of the foundational ingredients with their initial beef offering. This pork substitute is available in a ground format.
The company calculates that their plant-based pork substantially lessens environmental impact, utilizing 66% less land and 81% less water, while also producing 77% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Impossible Foods chicken products also launched in 2021, featuring three varieties: chicken tenders, nuggets, and patties. These products are crafted from a blend that includes soy, sunflower oil, a binding agent, starch, and additional components.
Impossible Foods' analysis suggests that its plant-based chicken options are more environmentally friendly than conventional chicken, requiring 49% less land and 44% less water, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36%.
The company launched its meatballs product in 2021 with similar core ingredients to the original beef product. The meatballs product comes in two forms, including Homestyle and Italian.
Impossible Meatballs are estimated by Impossible Foods to require 85% less water, 88% less land, and 87% less GHG emissions than animal equivalents.
In 2022, the company expanded its product line to include sausage alternatives, maintaining the key ingredients found in their flagship beef product. These plant-based sausages are available as ground meat, patties, and links. The ground sausage comes in one classic flavor, while the patties are offered in Spicy and Savory options, and the links come in Bratwurst, Italian, and Spicy flavors.
Impossible Foods has calculated that their sausage products have a substantially smaller environmental footprint compared to traditional sausages, with production requiring 41% less land, 79% less water, and resulting in 71% less greenhouse gas emissions.
Impossible Foods also launched a line of single serve pre-made frozen meals in 2022. Impossible Foods offers eight different meals ranging from teriyaki chicken, pasta bolognese, and burrito bowls, featuring Impossible Meat.
Impossible Foods also licenses its meats to third-party food manufacturers to create its own meals featuring Impossible Foods products like Buitoni Impossible Ravioli and Home Chef Impossible Meatloaf.
Impossible Foods generates revenue through the sales of their plant-based meat products and has three main sources of revenue: grocery stores, restaurants, and online.
Impossible Foods has expanded into private labeling, as evidenced by their collaboration with Kroger.
Additionally, while they do sell their products online, they don't follow a traditional direct-to-consumer model. Instead, customers can purchase items through the Impossible Foods website and have them delivered by Instacart. Their products are also available for purchase on Amazon.
The price of the products vary based on the location and distribution methods.
According to Market Watch in 2022, Impossible Foods’ sales soared 70% to $137 million.
According to Impossible Foods, the company continues to be the fastest growing plant-based meat brand in U.S. retail stores, where it experienced more than 50% sales growth in 2022. In the food service sector, its flagship Impossible Beef product has been the best-selling product by volume of any plant-based meat brand in the U.S.
“Beyond’s recent launches with jerky and at Rite Aid stores are focused on areas that are less additive to the business, whereas Impossible’s strategy has consolidated focus behind products and outlets more likely to support scaling its business,” John Baumgartner, analyst at Mizuho Group, told MarketWatch.
In January 2023, Impossible Foods announced that it hired top consumer goods industry leader Sherene Jagla as its first Chief Demand Officer. Named one of the Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer, Jagla joins Impossible with more than 25 years of sales, marketing, and general management experience at Fortune 500 companies across the CPG and food and beverage industries.
In June 2023, Impossible Foods announced the addition of two seasoned executives to its leadership team to oversee several critical business functions.
Veteran industrial biotechnology leader Sunil Chandran is joining Impossible Foods as its Chief Science Officer to oversee the company’s R&D and innovation departments, with a focus on improving Impossible’s existing products and introducing new innovations to its product portfolio. Chandran joins Impossible from Amyris Inc., where he spent more than 17 years bringing new fermentation-derived ingredients to market, most recently as its Chief Science Officer and Head of R&D.
Accomplished supply chain leader Rob Haas is joining Impossible Foods as its Chief Supply Chain Officer, where he’ll oversee all parts of Impossible’s supply chain, from ingredient sourcing to dynamic forecasting. A 30+ year industry veteran with experience in the U.S., APAC and Western Europe, Haas brings nearly 20 years of leadership experience from Anheuser Busch InBev, where he served as the Global VP of Ingredients, Supply Chain as well as the CEO and President of Metal Container Corporation, an AB InBev subsidiary.
In November 2023, Impossible Foods’ protein-packed Impossible™ Beef Litereceived certification from the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Food Certification Program. Following a rigorous review process, Beef Lite is now among a cohort of products that meet the American Heart Association’s robust, science-based nutrition criteria for heart-healthy foods.