Impossible Foods announced that they would enter the vegan chicken market later this year by introducing their own plant-based Impossible Chicken Nuggets. This follows the recent news from their rival company, Beyond Meat, who introduced their vegan chicken to restaurants nationwide earlier in July.
This already crowded market will now include more competition with the entry of Impossible Foods. The company will be unveiling the product at a trade show later this month to potential consumers, giving them a chance to experience the feel of their nuggets.
The company uses soy protein and sunflower oil to replicate the texture and taste of a traditional animal-based nugget. But more importantly, the fake chicken nuggets will not include heme, a substance added to their plant-based burgers and sausages to give them the meaty “bleeding” experience that Impossible Foods first introduced to the public.
The reason for excluding this ingredient is that the company’s other products were not allowed to be sold in Europe or China because the heme comes from genetically modified soy. Thus, they excluded it from their chicken products to cater to a wide range of consumers, but also chicken does not have a bleeding aspect naturally.
When Bloomberg asked why they were releasing the plant-based chicken now and not earlier, since they are innovators in this field, Impossible president Dennis Woodside said, “We’ve been busy with other things. We’ve been working on chicken for some time.”
Chicken is the most consumed meat in the US. According to World Atlas, Americans ate around 48.8 kg of chicken per person in 2017. Additionally, it is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US because of the increased demand for poultry. One of the largest companies in the poultry space is Tyson Foods.
In 2021, the global poultry market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 3.8 percent. The poultry market is expected to reach $422 billion in 2025.
In 2020, there was a massive shift in consumer behavior as people started eating more plant-based meats. Plant-based beef was just the beginning; now consumers expect vegan chicken, pork and seafood to be as readily available and delicious as faux beef.
Impossible Foods is now valued at $10 billion, and in 2020, the company raised $1.5 billion in funding. Additionally, the company announced that it would go public in the next few months, according to Reuters.
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are competing in an already competitive market. Major companies have already positioned their vegan chicken brands in the market, such as Simulate’s NUGGS, McDonald’s McPlant and Maple Leaf Foods’ Lightlife.
According to CNBC, chicken nugget is a staple in a lot of families in the US. Over the past 40 years, the consumption of chicken nuggets has increased in popularity. Over two billion servings of chicken nuggets were served to Americans in restaurants in 2018. As consumers turn to plant-based alternatives, vegan chicken producers will need to differentiate themselves based on taste, texture and price to beat the competition.