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Impossible Foods CEO slams 'the most destructive technology on Earth by far'

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown is bringing the heat to CES 2020 in Las Vegas, America’s biggest consumer tech trade show. The head of the plant-based meat company not only debuted two new products, a ground pork and pork sausage alternative, but slammed the meat industry in an interview with Yahoo Finance, calling it "the most destructive technology on Earth by far."

The company's ultimate goal is to completely replace animals as a form of food by 2035.

Impossible Foods already offers a beef alternative in its Impossible Burger, which uses plants and includes a soy-based heme protein, which gives the burger the faux blood that makes it "bleed."

The new sausage offering goes on sale in January at 139 Burger King locations in various test markets across the U.S. There's no word on availability for the ground pork offering just yet.

Impossible's latest move comes as the fake meat wars continue to heat up. The company's biggest competitor, Beyond Meat (BYND), went public in 2019 and saw its stock skyrocket from its IPO price of $25 all the way to $234 in July, before settling back down to $83.89 on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Impossible told Reuters it’s no longer seeking a deal to supply McDonald's (MCD) with its Impossible burger due to supply constraints. Beyond Meat’s shares jumped on the news.

Holding the meat industry's feet to the fire

With beef and pork alternatives already on the table, Brown says that chicken and turkey alternatives, as well as other plant-based meat options, are on the way.

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown holds up an Impossible Burger 2.0, the new and improved version of the company's plant-based vegan burger that tastes like real beef, at a press event during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The updated version can be cooked on a grill and has a better flavor and lowered cholesterol, fat and calories than the original.  "Unlike the cow, we get better at making meat every single day," CEO of Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown holds up an Impossible Burger 2.0, the new and improved version of the company's plant-based vegan burger that tastes like real beef, at a press event during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

"Again the thing that you just have to remember to anticipate everything Impossible is going to do is that our intention is to completely replace animals as a food production technology, the most destructive technology on Earth by far," Brown said.

"And that means that any product that we're currently producing using animals, Impossible Foods is already working on, and will commercialize a plant-based, a better, more delicious, more affordable, vastly more sustainable version of that product."

Brown's claims of the impact of the meat industry on the environment aren't unfounded. There have been several studies linking meat to everything from climate change to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Which is why, he says, Impossible Foods is so important.

Beyond Meat offers a similar reason for its products' existence, naming the meat industry's impact on the environment as an example of why plant-based alternatives are necessary.

"It's a very important problem to solve," Brown said. "Pork production is actually a big public health issue, because there are actually more antibiotics fed to pork, to pigs, than to all humans. It's a major source of antibiotic-resistant pathogens."

Products from Beyond Meat Inc, the vegan burger maker, are shown for sale at a market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 5, 2019.  REUTERS/
Products from Beyond Meat Inc, the vegan burger maker, are shown for sale at a market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/

While there's been a lot of discussion about the meat industry's impact on climate change through methane produced by farm animals, Brown says Impossible Foods is focusing on more than just how the climate itself is affected.

"Of course, it's not just about climate, it's about global biodiversity, it's about water resources, water pollution, and so forth," Brown said.

The nutritional impact of plant-based meat alternatives has also been a major sticking point for the companies. And while they have a lower amount of saturated fat than their animal-based counterparts, plant-based burgers like Impossible's do have more sodium than beef.

But Impossible's pork products won't help anyone if they don't taste good. Fortunately, for Brown, after I tried a soft-shell corn taco with the company's ground pork offering, I can report that the taste of Impossible Foods' faux pork is as close to the real thing as you can get.

It's not dry, and even browns similar to pork. If I didn't know it was plant-based, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. In our own Yahoo Finance taste test last fall, Impossible's burger outshined Beyond's by a slim margin.

As for the pork, we'll just have to wait and see how the rest of the world feels.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at danielphowley@protonmail.com or dhowley@yahoofinance.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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