From the beginning of human existence, we have depended on meat as a fundamental food source. Yet, with rising concerns about climate change, social inequality, and animal welfare in slaughterhouses, we have seen an increasing number of people turn away from meat and towards veganism or vegetarianism.
But some of us aren’t quite ready to abandon our Korean BBQs and grilled steaks, and here to save us from our dilemma is California-based Impossible Foods and their plant-based products.
With a rapidly increasing interest in meat alternatives, investing in Impossible Foods could very well mean investing in the future of food.
The Relevance of Impossible Foods Today
Look at the images below. Can you point out which is the Impossible Foods patty and which is the real meat? The answer is at the bottom of this article*.
Judging from previous Impossible Burger reviews, the answer would be no. After all, it is precisely due to their impossibly meat-like appearance, taste, and texture that Impossible Foods products have managed to remain a key leader in the increasingly competitive but growing market of plant-based products. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the global vegan food market is expected to approach an estimated USD24.3 billion by 2026 (from USD13.2 billion in 2019), growing at a CAGR of 9.1$% throughout 2019-2026.
There has been a growing worldwide tilt towards meat alternatives. In recent years, we’ve observed fast-food restaurants across the U.S. scramble to add plant-based “meat” to their menus as interests in vegan, and vegetarian diets rise. All over the world, more and more companies producing plant-based alternatives have started up.
At the forefront of this trend is the team at Impossible Foods, who have produced the Impossible Burger, Impossible Sausage, and Impossible Pork, which was listed as one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2020. Impossible recently closed its Series G funding with an additional USD200 million in its war chest and has raised about USD1.5 billion since its 2011 founding. Its most recent raise values the company at USD4 billion, with the firm counting Mirae Asset Global Investments, Temasek, Horizon Ventures, and Khosla Ventures as some of its major backers.
Public competitors include Beyond Meat (USD8.7 billion market capitalization), and recently SPAC listed Tattooed Chef Inc (USD1.0 billion market capitalization). Elsewhere, heavyweights Nestle, Danone, Tyson Foods, and Cargill lay in waiting with their plant-based initiatives, each a small part of their massive portfolio.
In virtually every aspect, this growing interest and awareness are for the better. As stated in Impossible Foods’ mission statement, “using animals to make meat is a prehistoric and destructive technology.”
For decades, animal husbandry, especially livestock raising, has been a root cause of rising greenhouse gas levels and water pollution. Animal welfare concerns have also been raised in regards to how livestock are treated at slaughterhouses. In contrast, a recent analysis done by the Good Food Institute (GFI) measured a significantly smaller carbon footprint for plant-based meat after taking into account its water and land use, greenhouse gas emissions, and aquatic eutrophication potential.
COVID-19 further highlighted the importance of sustainable food sources. When speculations over the virus source pointed to the consumption of wild animal meat, many started to rethink their diets. As a result, since the start of the pandemic, the demand for plant-based meat has surged in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and mainland China.
But is “fake meat” too good to be true? Criticism surrounding its GMO contents and it being a highly-processed fake food has been raised. Of course, there is some truth to plant-based meat, not exactly being a “health food.” It should be taken in moderation, just like virtually every food item out there. This article breaks things down for us.
So we know that plant-based meat is gaining public recognition. But just how long-lasting is this interest in “fake meat”? And will investing in it make for good returns in the future?
Plant-Based meat: The Future of Food?
Decades ago, when the term ‘vegetarianism’ was first coined, when black bean veggie burgers and tofu hot dogs were the only meat alternatives when people first started saying no to eating meat in protest of animal abuse in slaughterhouses… who could have imagined a day where we’d be eating “bleeding” plant-based alternatives?
As the world’s global warming issue worsens, technology develops to reverse it. Meat substitute companies such as Impossible Foods are the ones leading us into a more sustainable, less destructive future, and many are starting to recognize that.
When Impossible Foods first started in 2011, their products were only available in 150 stores across the U.S. – now, that number has grown to more than 8000 worldwide. Even in Singapore, they have been busy increasing their retail presence; their products can now not only be found in grocery stores but also in international food chains like Burger King, Starbucks, and MOS Burger. The company isn’t showing any signs of slowing down either – just recently, they announced plans for a new Impossible Milk.
*The Impossible Foods patty is the one with the yellow background.
Carmen is a writer and student at the School Of The Arts Singapore. She is passionate about climate action and seeks to drive change through her work as the Educational Director For Schools at Bye Bye Plastic Bags Singapore, a youth-led environmental organization.