Impossible Burger Sales Gaining On the Meat Industry

Impossible Foods’ flagship product—the Impossible Burger—is giving animal-derived meat a run for its money. A new study, commissioned by the company, reveals sales of the plant-based meat are displacing animal-derived meat sales.

It found 78 percent of sales shifted to the Impossible Burger from other categories of plant- and animal-based meat. Of the 78 percent, 92 percent shifted away from animal meat to Impossible Burger. The remaining eight percent shifted away from other plant-based meat products to the vegan meat.

“If I were to look at it as a total level of where we are sourcing our volume it would be 92 percent of 78 percent, which comes up to 72 percent. So 72 percent of Impossible dollars or Impossible’s volume as dollars is coming directly from animal meat,” Esha Shah, Impossible Foods’ senior manager for customer insights, told LIVEKINDLY.

“People are really substituting the amount that they are spending on animal meat and replacing that with Impossible. And that’s exactly what we saw in the study was that on an overall level, 72 percent of the dollars that came to Impossible came directly at the cost of animal meat where people were spending less on animal meat,” she continued.

“So 72 percent of Impossible dollars or Impossible’s volume as dollars is coming directly from animal meat,” Shah added.

Shifting Away From Animal Meat

The plant-based meat company based its analysis on data supplied by the Chicago-based analytics firm Numerator. The firm has a large database of consumers who upload pictures of their receipts in exchange for points.

Impossible analyzed 450 consumer receipts during two, consecutive 13-week periods. The company wanted to determine if there was a shift in consumers’ meat-buying habits.

In addition to the 78 percent shift away from the meat category, Impossible found that one percent of consumers hadn’t purchased plant- or animal-based meat in the previous 13-week period. Shah said the remaining 21 percent were incremental to the category.

“So these are consumers who are still spending the same amount on the meat category as they were in the previous 13-week period. So they aren’t decreasing their ongoing consumption of any form of meat products compared to the previous 13-week period,” Shah explained.

Impossible Foods Expands

The fact that Impossible Foods is now more readily available in supermarkets and grocery chains may account for the soaring sales.

Prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Impossible Foods’ vegan meat was only available in fewer than 150 grocery stores. The vegan meat is now sold in all 50 states at more than 11,000 grocery outlets. These include major chains like Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Albertsons, and Sprouts.

The company has also expanded internationally. It recently launched two new menu items in Starbucks Hong Kong featuring its vegan breakfast sausage meat: the Spiced Impossible Puff and the Maize Impossible Sandwich—which features egg, mayonnaise, and cheese.

And earlier this month, it debuted its vegan meat in Canada at more than a dozen award-winning restaurants. Starting next month, all Canadian restaurants will be able to order the plant-based meat. It will debut in grocery stores later this year.

Last month, Impossible Foods secured an additional $200 million in funding. Earlier this year, the plant-based meat company landed $500 million. In total, the food-tech startup has now raised nearly $1.5 billion to date. The company said the new round of investments would go towards expanding the research and development of new products.