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Burger King’s Impossible Whopper: Here’s what eaters are saying

Heidi Chung

After a successful test phase, Burger King (QSR) officially dropped its Impossible Whopper in all of its 7,200 stores nationwide Thursday. Unlike the classic Whopper, the Impossible Whopper features a plant-based alternative to beef offered by Impossible Foods.

Since Beyond Meat (BYND), a competitor to Impossible Foods, debuted on the public market in May, the alternative-meat hype has been running hot. It piqued the interest of Wall Street and investors, and the stock has been on a tear, rallying more than 500% since its IPO.

But, how do average consumers actually feel about plant-based protein?

Yahoo Finance took to the streets and visited a local Burger King in Downtown Manhattan to ask Burger King diners what they thought of the Impossible Whopper and its competition.

The crowd was diverse with vegetarians and vegans, but also plenty of carnivores and omnivores. Some patrons said they enjoyed both real meat and fake meat similarly, but expressed that they wanted to incorporate fake meat into their diets for environmental reasons.

There were plenty of folks Yahoo Finance spoke to who had no idea what an Impossible Whopper was, perhaps reflecting a shortfall in Burger Kings marketing push.

Impossible Foods vs. Beyond Meat

On the other hand, there were those who were more seasoned, claiming to be able to distinguish between alternatives offered by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

One customer said that he preferred the Impossible burger to the Beyond Meat burger.

“The reason why is the texture,” he said. “It’s very hard to mimic, in a lab, the way real meat is... I do love Beyond, but Impossible beats it because of the texture.”

Another diner echoed the same sentiment. “I like Impossible better [than Beyond]. It tastes more like meat. I gave up red meat about 10 years ago, and the one thing I missed the most was hamburgers. The Impossible burger brings back that nostalgia.”

Competition in the alternative-meat space is stiff. Dunkin (DNKN) recently announced a partnership with Beyond Meat to sell plant-based breakfast sandwiches. On Thursday, a Dunkin worker dressed in green “Beyond Dunkin” attire stood outside of a Burger King store and handed out $5 gift cards to lure customers to its stores.

Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches are served during Dunkin' and Beyond Meat unveil Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich at an event hosted by DeAndre Jordan of The Brooklyn Nets at Dunkin' Donuts on July 24, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for Dunkin' )

However, competition isn’t the only issue that the alternative-meat producers are facing. Customers have already begun reporting shortages at their location restaurants that serve Impossible burgers. Yahoo Finance reached out to Impossible Foods to ask about how the company plans to meet the spiking demand.

David Lee, Impossible Foods CFO & COO, said in an email, “Our collaboration with OSI gives Impossible Foods access to additional manufacturing capacity for the Impossible Burger. This additional capacity helps satisfy scorching demand for the Impossible Burger as unprecedented growth continues in all sales categories -- individual restaurants, college campuses, corporate canteens, theme parks and large customers such as Burger King, White Castle, Qdoba and others.”

Lee also noted that OSI would begin producing the Impossible burger next month and through 2019 and thereafter.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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