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How Impossible Foods is trying to solve one of its biggest challenges

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
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Sometimes it’s hard to be so in demand.

Impossible Foods — known for its meatless cell-based burgers now available at some 9,000 restaurants nationwide — says it’s struggling a bit to keep up with the voracious demand for its product.

“Yes, we are struggling to keep up with scorching demand for the Impossible Burger. The issue is not unique to any single region or chain; we are not prioritizing anyone, so the outages could in principle affect any of the 9,000 restaurants where the Impossible Burger is on menu,” a company spokeswoman tells Yahoo Finance.

The comments follow a Bloomberg report Friday suggesting Impossible Foods’ burgers are out of stock in many Red Robin and White Castle locations. The story also calls out Beyond Meat (BYND) burgers being unavailable at 70 Freebirds locations.

“The company faces no insurmountable supply-chain constraints or fundamental bottlenecks; like other successful startups, we are facing short-term ramp-up challenges resulting from demand greatly outstripping supply,” the Impossible Foods spokeswoman added.

Restaurant Brands (QSR) — which offers the Impossible Burger through 100 Burger King locations in San Francisco and plans a nationwide rollout by year end — tells Yahoo Finance that they are working closely with the company to avoid supply issues.

“The Impossible Whopper is currently available in five markets. We have worked closely with Impossible Foods over the last few months to plan for the launch of the Impossible Whopper and ensure that we are able to meet demand as it rolls out in our test markets and, eventually, nationwide,” a Restaurant Brands spokeswoman said.

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO - APRIL 01: In this photo illustration, an 'Impossible Whopper' sits on a table at a Burger King restaurant on April 1, 2019 in Richmond Heights, Missouri. Burger King announced on Monday that it is testing out Impossible Whoppers, made with plant-based patties from Impossible Foods, in 59 locations in and around St. Louis area. (Photo Illustration by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
An 'Impossible Whopper' sits on a table at a Burger King restaurant on April 1, 2019 in Richmond Heights, Missouri. (Photo Illustration by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

The Impossible Foods spokeswoman outlined several ways the plant-based burger maker is seeking to rectify the shortages. Her comments to Yahoo Finance:

  1. We are increasing headcount at the plant in Oakland, Calif. The plant now runs 24-7 (two 12-hours shifts per day) and employs about 130 people full time (including 25 who completed their training just last week). We are aggressively recruiting additional new hires to work in Oakland a variety of functions.

  2. Also, last month we hired a new senior executive with extensive manufacturing experience. Sheetal Shah has spent more than a decade scaling up tech companies to achieve breakthrough growth — and we’re confident he’ll do the same for Impossible Foods.

  3. Also last month, we announced $300 million in new investment from both blue-chip global investors and high-profile individuals. We’ll dedicate a significant amount of funding to increasing production quickly and to our long-term growth strategy.

  4. To achieve continued breakout growth, the company will add more manufacturing capacity and is actively pursuing strategies for doing so. We are not providing additional details on our manufacturing expansion at this time. Stay tuned.

The shortages make sense in light of Impossible Foods’ growth rates. Impossible Foods tells Yahoo Finance it has seen 50% sales growth since the launch of its new 2.0 burger in January. Sales in Asia have surged by four times in the past three months alone.

A Beyond Meat spokeswoman did not return Yahoo Finance’s request for comment on its own supply shortages.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-host of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Brian Sozzi him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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