- Impossible Foods is introducing Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage, the startup’s first all-new products since the Impossible Burger launched in 2016. The company is offering its first taste of the new items at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Last Vegas.
- Impossible Sausage will debut in late January exclusively at 139 Burger King restaurants in five regions Savannah, Georgia, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Montgomery, Alabama, Lansing, Michigan and Springfield, Illinois, as part of the Impossible Croissan'wich, according to a separate announcement.
- The faux meat maker said Impossible Pork can be used in any recipe that calls for ground pork. Impossible said the product offers people the taste and nutrition of pork, among other things. Compared to a 4-ounce serving of traditional pork, the plant-based item has one fewer gram of protein (16 grams), 19 fewer grams of total fat (13 grams), no cholesterol and 130 fewer calories (220 calories).
Impossible's test with Burger King is a logical move for Impossible, which has a close working relationship already with Burger King. The fast food giant tried out Impossible's burger at nearly 60 locations in its Impossible Whopper before rolling it out to all of its 7,200 stores. The Impossible Whopper was a huge success, becoming one of the most successful rollouts in Burger King's history, and the latest test is part of the company's plan to expand its plant-based menu domestically and abroad. Impossible has introduced its products first in restaurants; while the company's faux beef it debuted in 2016 only moved into retail outlets last September.
In addition to pork, Impossible is introducing its own sausage variety that will pit it against fellow upstart Beyond Meat. The Beyond Meat sausage, which was introduced in December 2017, has been sold in restaurants, including Tim Hortons and Dunkin'.
As plant-based meats have increased in popularity, the fast-growing segment has predominately focused on beef-like substitutes from companies such as Impossible, Beyond Meat and most recently Nestlé's Awesome Burger, which hit the market last fall. Now, Impossible is shaking up the meat space again with a new pork product touted as "a plant-based upgrade to the world’s most ubiquitous meat."
Pork is the most widely consumed meat globally, controlling 40% of consumption in 2018, according to the Pork Checkoff, citing data from the USDA. Chicken was second at 33% followed by beef at 21%.
Plant-based pork products could be particularly attractive as it would be immune to diseases that have impacted swine around the world in recent years, including the United States and most recently in China, the world's largest consumer and importer of the meat. African swine fever killed nearly five million pigs across six Asian countries over a 12-month period, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said in August. In China alone, roughly half of its pig population has been lost to swine fever.
"Impossible Foods cracked meat’s molecular code — starting with ground beef, which is intrinsic to the American market. Now we're accelerating the expansion of our product portfolio to more of the world’s favorite foods," Pat Brown, Impossible Foods' CEO, said in a statement. "We won't stop until we eliminate the need for animals in the food chain and make the global food system sustainable."
Newer versions of plant-based meats have worked to replicate the real thing as much as possible in order to attract more carnivores to the space — a key factor to help sustain growth and drive additional revenue. Plant-based hamburgers were the primary focus before producers branched out into other areas such as tuna, shrimp and chicken.
As Impossible and other makers of plant-based products improve technology and amass research and knowledge, it makes sense for them to move into other areas. Expanding into other forms of meat, seafood or poultry presumably draws more consumers to the space while wooing those who already eat the products — attracting, for example, a person who has enjoyed plant-based beef and is willing to sample a faux version of pork as well.
While Impossible will likely have a valuable early advantage with its pork offering, plant-based sausages are more widely available. The reason, most likely, is the spices enable manufacturers to mask some of the plant-based flavor that may give it a different taste compared to traditional animal-based varieties. Ultimately, for plant-based companies to succeed it boils down to taste and if more consumers will be willing to eat their product compared to a competitors — regardless of whether its made with plants or comes from animals.