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Impossible Foods is entering the fake meat grocery game

Melody Hahm
·West Coast Correspondent

The Impossible Burger is available at 17,000 restaurant locations, including national chains like Burger King (QSR), White Castle, Qdoba, and Cheesecake Factory (CAKE). Starting tomorrow, home cooks will be able to buy the plant-based patties for the first time.

Impossible Foods is launching at Gelson’s, a supermarket chain in Southern California. Its signature burger will be available at all 27 locations, spanning Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura County. The privately held plant-based meat maker plans to have a presence in grocery stores across every region in the U.S. by mid-2020.

Impossible Foods is catching up to Beyond Meat (BYND), whose fake meat patties, sausages, and crumbles have been available at mega chains like Whole Foods (AMZN), Target (TGT) and Kroger (KR), not to mention Gelson’s. The two California-based half-tech, half-food companies have been racing to grab the American eater’s attention and wallet — in restaurants and at home.

Image Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance
Image Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Kroger, Nestle (NSRGY), Hormel (HRL), Trader Joe’s, Tyson Foods (TSN), Kellogg (K), and Conagra Brands (CAG) have developed or are in the process of offering their own plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy, much of it inspired by Beyond Meat’s explosive valuation after it went public in May and saw its value soar 163% on its first day of trading. (Despite the initial exuberance, the stock is down 10% over the last two months.)

On Wednesday, Tim Hortons announced it will be pulling the Beyond Meat Burger and breakfast sandwiches in all provinces except Ontario and British Columbia, re-upping questions about demand and sending shares lower.

The so-called total addressable market (TAM) for plant-based meats will reach $140 billion over the next 10 years, according to Barclays. Neither Beyond Meat nor Impossible Foods is currently profitable.

Image Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance
Image Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Dr. Praeger’s and Morningstar’s veggie burgers have proliferated freezer aisles for decades, but they haven’t imitated the texture, flavor, or mouthfeel of beef.

The Impossible Burger is kosher, halal, plant-based, gluten-free and bioengineered, and will come in a 12-oz package that will cost $8.99 at Gelson’s.

Impossible Foods uses a “magic” ingredient called soy leghemoglobin, which was approved by the FDA last year. Soy leghemoglobin releases a protein called heme, an iron-containing molecule that’s found in any living being, including plants. The company has patents that cover the use of heme, which also makes the product ‘
”bleed,” just like a beef burger would.

Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm. She also hosts Breakouts, an interview series featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders.

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