The money will be used to expand its R&D programs; accelerate its manufacturing scaleup; increase its retail presence and its availability in key international markets; and accelerate commercialization and development of “next-generation, plant-based products” including Impossible Pork, milk, steak and other foods, said CFO David Lee in a press release.
“2020 has been a year of explosive growth for us, but this is just the beginning. We plan to create plant-based upgrades for every major category of animal-derived food products. This investment will allow us to continue to develop and commercialize the technology that will enable that transformation.”
New products: ‘Plant-based upgrades for every major category of animal-derived food products…’
Impossible Foods – which has a stated goal to “produce a full range of meats and dairy products for every cultural region in the world” – recently launched the Impossible Sausage, but is also working on other products, chief communications officer Rachel Konrad told FoodNavigator-USA in March.
“We started with beef, because unquestionably beef is #1 from an environmental perspective, followed by pork, which is the most ubiquitous animal meat in the world. But Pat Brown is also really concerned about how we’re strip mining the oceans, which is utterly unsustainable, so we’ve done a lot of prototyping around fish.”
As for dairy, she said: “Our goal is to collapse the livestock industry and that means going after every piece of consumer value that comes out of a cow.”
‘When we launch Impossible Milk From Plants, it will truly rival milk from cows’
The company has not said whether its approach to the dairy category will be plant-based (using nuts, seeds, legumes etc) or whether it plans to produce ‘real’ dairy proteins via microbial fermentation (along the lines of what Perfect Day is doing) given its experience with yeast fermentation to produce the star ingredient in its burgers: heme.
Published patents don’t provide too many clues as to what the company is working on today, although a patent published in April 2015 describes methods of producing non-dairy milks and cheeses using a variety of plant-based sources from nuts and seeds to legumes.
Speaking to us this morning, Konrad added: “The current generation of plant-based milks are delicious… but you wouldn’t confuse the current generation of plant-based milks with milk from cows. When we launch Impossible Milk From Plants, it will truly rival milk from cows.”
Impossible Foods has raised a jaw-dropping amount of money for a food startup (the latest round values the startup at a cool $4bn, according to PrimeUnicorn Index), albeit one supported by a lot of IP, acknowledged president Dennis Woodside in an interview with FoodNavigator-USA last year.
However, the addressable market is huge, he argued: “Think about the market opportunity. Our investors are smart and they are thinking long term, and there are very few companies that can say with a straight face, ‘Every person on the planet is a potential customer.
“A lot of tech companies with very big valuations can’t say that. The market potential, if we are successful, is absolutely vast.”
The plant-based Impossible Burger is now available at 2,100 Walmart stores in 50 states, says Impossible Foods, which has been aggressively ramping up its retail presence this year, with distribution expanding from just 150 stores in January 2020 to more than 8,000 today including Trader Joe’s, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Gelson’s, H-E-B, Kroger, Safeway, Stop & Shop, and Wegmans.