Entering 2020, plant-based everything was the No. 1 trend in food and both burgers and sausages within the sector seemed ready for their Tesla moment: A big swing to the mainstream to prove the doubters and shorters wrong. But COVID-19 radically altered trend lines, shut down most restaurants, crimped food supply chains and distracted consumers from many of their previous trajectories. Now what?
"Ninety-five percent of all our business was in restaurants in March, so we accelerated a plan we already had to roll out in grocery stores," says Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods. "Now we're in more than 10,000 grocery stores. That was catalyzed by the COVID outbreak." Further evidence of that swing is seen in Impossible's announcement of availability in Canadian grocery stores and restaurants, along with Target's soft launch of Impossible's products.
The prospect of plant-based meats fully entering the mainstream comes with an interesting side story: Growth isn't about COVID spawning a new wave of vegans and vegetarians, but changing the inertia among meat eaters. "We have nothing against vegans and vegetarians," says Brown, "but the only consumer we care about from a mission standpoint is someone who would otherwise be buying meat from an animal."
Every business has spent 2020 estimating what the new normal looks like in its sector. "Our mission is to completely replace animals as a food technology by 2035," says Brown, claiming that grocery sales data now indicates that a large majority of Impossible purchases bump animal meat off the checkout receipt. "We're serious; the arrow of history only goes one way here."
Impossible CEO Pat Brown shared many more updates on the state of his business with CNET's Brian Cooley in the video above.
Now What is a video interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.