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Impossible Foods founder: 'Keep your customers Beyond Meat, please'

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (BYND) are frenemies for now in the fight to crush Big Meat.

At least that’s the word on the street from Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown as the two leaders in the plant-based meat movement continue to trade body blows this year.

“First of all, Beyond Meat is not our competition and I wish them nothing but success. The only competition we care about is the incumbent animal-based industry, and that’s 100% where we are focused on,” Brown told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Brown contends that its customers are meat eaters now looking around for healthier foods that are plant-based. To grow the business and rid the world of greenhouse gas-emitting meat, Brown believes it’s important the industry continues to gain these reformed meat eaters.

Says Brown, “We wish them [Beyond Meat] well. Keep your customers Beyond Meat, please, because it’s the other 99% of the world’s population that we need to go after by making products that outperform meat from animals not outperform another plant-based product.”

Points well taken.

But it’s hard to overlook the back and forth between the two upstart food companies this year as they establish themselves globally and vie for plant-based supremacy.

Impossible Foods gained the latest bit of headlines on Wednesday, saying it will hire 100 scientists to work on dairy-free milk and plant-based fish and steak. Earlier in the week, it disclosed its burgers will be sold in some grocery stores in Hong Kong and Singapore. Brown tells Yahoo Finance expansion into China is on the horizon.

“I am reasonably optimistic that some time next year and maybe in the first half of next year, we’ll get the clearance in China and it will be a huge thing for us,” Brown says.

"Impossible Foods" burgers made from plant-based substitutes for meat products sit on a shelf for sale on November 15, 2019 in New York City. - Vegetarian alternatives to burgers and sausages, revived by start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, are enjoying a certain enthusiasm that meat giants also want to enjoy. Since this summer, the world leader in the JBS sector has been marketing a soy burger in Brazil that includes beetroot, garlic and onions, with a look similar to a rare minced steak. In the US, the largest meat producer Tyson Foods launched a new line of products in June based on plants or mixing meat and vegetables. Its competitors Hormel Foods, Perdue Farms or Smithfield, have similar initiatives. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
"Impossible Foods" burgers made from plant-based substitutes for meat products sit on a shelf for sale on November 15, 2019 in New York City. - Vegetarian alternatives to burgers and sausages, revived by start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, are enjoying a certain enthusiasm that meat giants also want to enjoy. Since this summer, the world leader in the JBS sector has been marketing a soy burger in Brazil that includes beetroot, garlic and onions, with a look similar to a rare minced steak. In the US, the largest meat producer Tyson Foods launched a new line of products in June based on plants or mixing meat and vegetables. Its competitors Hormel Foods, Perdue Farms or Smithfield, have similar initiatives. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

In August, Impossible Foods secured $200 million in additional funding to expand its manufacturing and R&D capacity. July brought news of Impossible Foods adding 2,100 more Walmart locations for its burgers — the company is now in 8,000 retail locations nationwide.

Suffice it to say, Beyond Meat — led by founder Ethan Brown (no relation) - isn’t sitting idle.

Last week, Beyond Meat disclosed a 210 store limited-time only launch at KFC China. That came on the heels of the company releasing a new breakfast sausage and meatballs into the marketplace.

And in late September, Beyond Meat announced in late September a deal with Walmart that will see its distribution at the retailer rise to 2,400 stores from 800. The expansion comes after the plant-based meat seller debuted a value pack at Walmart this summer, which it dubbed its most affordable product yet.

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

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