Everyone is excited about plant-based meat substitutes, it seems.
Impossible Foods has raised $300 million in its latest round of funding, a sign that investors are enthusiastic about the future of meat substitutes. The announcement came on Monday, bringing its total funding to $750 million. Despite this success, Impossible Foods says it's not yet going public, despite being valued now at $2 billion.
High-profile investors include celebrities Jay-Z, Will.i.am, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah, Zedd, and Katy Perry (who, according to U.S. News, "wore a vegan burger outfit to New York's annual Met Gala, making reference to Impossible Foods"), as well as athletes Serena Williams, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins and NBA star Paul George. Previous backing has come from Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Open Philanthropy Project, and more.Impossible's rival Beyond Meat has also seen surging support in recent months. Since going public on May 2 with a starting value of $1.5 billion, it has nearly tripled its worth, now at $4 billion. Chief Financial Officer Lee says Impossible feels validated by Beyond's success, despite not wanting to follow in its footsteps quite yet.
"I think their IPO indicates that retail investors along with retail consumers are ready for something better than the meat they've been eating for decades... But we are not in a rush, nor are we announcing an IPO filing."
Impossible is scrambling to keep up with the surge in demand, even running out of product at times. CNN reports that it plans to hire 50 new employees to work at its production facility in Oakland, California, which currently employs around 70 full-time workers; it wants to open more manufacturing facilities.
Animal-based protein is increasingly viewed as harmful to the planet, and people are looking for ways to transition away from eating it. A product such as the one offered by Impossible Foods satisfies the cravings some people get for meat, thanks to an ingredient called heme, "which makes the patties appear to be bloody and juicy and taste like real meat unlike conventional veggie burgers" (via U.S. News).
It is this 'craveability' that makes Lee, the CFO, so confident in the Impossible Burger's continued success:
"We don't lead with the source of guilt that meat eaters have globally. We lead with what they want positively which is craveability with better options for the environment and their health. [This] makes meat eaters find their own reason to come back for Impossible Burger."
Impossible says it is negotiating with several grocers, but no formal plans have been released yet for launch in stores. Currently the Impossible Burger is available in 7,000 restaurants around the the U.S., while the Beyond Burger can be purchased at a number of grocery stores and restaurants.