After a big year for its plant-based burger, Impossible Foods has something new on its plate.
The California-based company unveiled Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage this week during the CES gadget show. The unveiling is Impossible Food's first foray beyond fake beef. The Impossible Burger, which went on sale in 2016, has been a key player in the growing vegan meat category. Like the burger, Impossible Food's pork and sausage are made from soy but mimic the taste and texture of ground meat.
Impossible Pork will be rolled out to restaurants first. The company isn't yet saying when it will come to groceries. Impossible Foods only recently began selling its burgers in grocery stores, although they're available at more than 17,000 restaurants in the U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
Burger King will give consumers their first taste of Impossible Sausage later this month, when 139 of its restaurants in five U.S. cities will offer the Impossible Croissan'wich. It's made with plant-based sausage and the traditional egg and cheese.last year before expanding sales nationwide.
The pork products and the Impossible Burger are made in a similar way. Impossible Foods gets heme — the protein that gives meat its flavor and texture — from soy leghemoglobin, which is found in the roots of soy plants. To make heme in high volume, it inserts the DNA from soy into yeast and ferments it. That mixture is then combined with other ingredients, like coconut oil. The company tweaked the ingredients to mimic pork's springy texture and mild flavor.
Impossible Foods CFO David Lee said the vegan patties are environmentally friendly and use less land and water, and produce fewer greenhouse gases than animal products. But some health experts are skeptical of processed alternative burger products' nutritional values.
Impossible Pork has slightly fewer calories than traditional lean ground pork, butaren't the only reason . Nearly 1.5 billion pigs are killed annually for food, a number that has tripled in the last 50 years, according to the World Economic Forum. Raising those pigs depletes natural resources and increases greenhouse gas emissions.
"Everything that we're doing is trying to avert the biggest threat that the world is facing," said Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown.
The company introduced the fake pork product, which it began developing about 18 months ago, in response to customer feedback, according to Brown.
Brown said ground pork is also critical to meeting the company's international expansion goals. While Americans eat more beef and chicken, pork is the most widely consumed meat worldwide, according to the National Pork Board.
In the U.S., 2019 was a breakout year for plant-based meat. Sales jumped 10% last year to nearly $1 billion; traditional meat sales rose 2% to $95 billion in that same time, according to Nielsen.
Impossible Foods rival Beyond Meat — which already sells plant-based sausage links —in spring 2019. Impossible Foods ran short of burgers in the first half of the year thanks to the buzz from Burger King. After partnering with OSI Group, a food service company, Brown said Impossible Foods produced twice as much of its plant-based meat in the last quarter of 2019 as it sold in all of 2018.
Brown said he welcomes new competitors in the space, including deep-pocketed rivals like Nestle and Tyson Foods. The meat industry is vast, he said, and plant-based meats only make up around 1% of sales.