Looking back on what could be the most unprecedented summer for the food and beverage industry, two companies that skipped the summer break were Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Both plant-based meat giants have been competing for the number one spot, trading big announcements back and forth all summer long.
Whether it was international deals, retail partner announcements, or direct sales channel launches, the one common thread for both companies was expansion. Both expanded into more stores with more buying options, in more geographic markets.
Beyond Meat, which came before Impossible Foods, was started in 2009 by Ethan Brown, who remains the CEO. The company began with a core mission to lessen humans’ reliance on livestock and opt for better, more sustainable options. Beyond has built a devoted following from Kyrie Irving to Bill Gates, and many other celebrity supporters.
Impossible Food is a slightly younger company. It was founded in 2011 by Patrick O’Reilly Brown, a Stanford biochemistry professor, who is similarly driven by the desire to reduce reliance on animals by providing a plant-based substitute. After nearly five years of development, the Impossible Burger was released in July 2016.
In terms of new products, Impossible rolled out its plant-based sausage in Starbucks locations across the US and Beyond did another pilot for its plant-based chicken in some KFC stores. But what made it such a successful summer for both brands wasn’t their new products, but rather their ability to scale.
For vegetarians and flexitarians worldwide, this is good news. It’s also good news for the plant-based meat market overall, which has seen spike in demand a during the pandemic. This means that for now, Beyond and Impossible have stabilized their product offerings and likely won’t be tampering publicly with their plant-based meat formulas.
Both companies are also expanding at a time when deep-rooted problems with the traditional meat-packing industry are being brought forward by COVID-19. According to the CDC, “Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 COVID-19–related deaths.”
Impossible, Beyond and other plant-based meat companies – which claim their product is better for the environment – have an opportunity to show that their working conditions are better for employees, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
This year has been a period of major growth and development for both Impossible and Beyond. The scaling and expansion the two companies have done over the summer will likely to lead to even more mainstreaming of plant-based meat throughout 2021.