Impossible Foods enters Canada as part of contending with COVID-19

Expansion into Canada -- and into Target stores -- is part of an expanded retail plan, Impossible tells CNET's Now What.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The PHM HealthFront™. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
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Brian Cooley
2 min read

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.

Impossible beef at Ufficio in Toronto

Ivana Raca, executive chef at Ufficio in Toronto, will showcase Impossible ground burger in agnolotti as part of Impossible's move to enter the Canadian market, but retail is carrying the day until restaurants normalize.

Impossible Foods

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." 

Impossible burger 12 ounce packs at Wegmans

Retail displays like this at a Wegman's market have been an accelerated emphasis by Impossible Foods since the COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the restaurant scene that had been 95% of the company's business.

Impossible Foods

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.