Will ‘lean’ vegan meat attract more meat-eaters? Impossible Launch ‘Lite’ Biff

Impossible Foods was founded in 2011 with an unwavering mission to use plants to recreate animal products with the goal of replacing them with more sustainable, ethical, and delicious alternatives. First launched in 2016, its flagship Impossible Burger took on traditional ground beef and has since become a staple on supermarket and restaurant menus.

Impossible Foods aims to create viable plant-based alternatives to all animal products by 2035. The next step in that journey begins today with the launch of Impossible Beef Light, which was created to lock horns with “lean” animal-raised beef (specifically USDA 90/10 ground beef).

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“We know consumers love our plant-based beef,” an Impossible Foods spokesperson told VegNews. “Our flagship ground beef product is the number one best-selling retail product across the entire plant-based category, and the best-selling product by volume of any plant-based meat brand in U.S. foodservice.”

“However, we also know that particularly health-conscious consumers want options that better fit their lifestyles,” the spokesperson said. “Impossible Beef Light is our response to that claim.”

Improving lean beef with plants

Impossible’s original plant-based beef was designed to compete with USDA 80/20 beef and is already better than animal products in many metrics. In addition to providing comparable nutrition without the downsides of cholesterol, Impossible Beef requires fewer resources to produce and because it doesn’t come from an animal, it doesn’t contain antibiotics or hormones.

Its new Impossible Beef Lite brings these benefits to a new consumer segment.

“We’ve been able to create a plant-based lean beef that not only tastes, cooks and satiates the same way as beef lean beef, but actually outperforms the animal in key nutritional metrics,” the spokesperson said.

When it comes to nutrition, Impossible Beef Light contains 21 grams of plant protein per serving and is a good source of fiber, iron, B vitamins, zinc and potassium. It has 45 percent less total fat, 75 percent less saturated fat and zero cholesterol than lean animal meat.

“It’s a better alternative for the planet than lean beef from cows because, like all our lean beef products, it uses less land and water and emits fewer greenhouse gases than animal versions,” the spokesperson said.

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The new Impossible Beef Lite can be used in any recipe that uses lean ground beef, such as tacos, pasta dishes and more.

Impossible’s got plant-based meat

The planet cannot sustain animal meat consumption at its current level, and so products like Impossible Beef Lite aim to give meat eaters a new entry point to plant-based meats.

In addition to plant-based beef, Impossible has so far developed a number of products to go head-to-head with animal meat, including plant-based pork and chicken products, along with frozen meals.

Impossible Foods is tackling the chicken category — the most consumed meat in the U.S. — in the summer of 2021 with the launch of its plant-based Impossible Chicken Nuggets. Last year, Impossible worked with Burger King to create a plant-based chicken sandwich—a first for the fast-food giant on home soil—that was available for a limited time at the Cincinnati, OH location.

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Earlier this year, the company announced an expansion to its plant-based chicken platform that brings new options to consumers in the form of Spicy Chicken Nuggets, Spicy Chicken Patties and Chicken Tenders.

“Our chicken products have quickly caught on with consumers, and they have served as a successful entry point to our brand,” Impossible Foods chief demand officer Sheren Jagla said in a statement last month.

“At retail, our original nuggets are leading in dollar sales in the plant-based chicken category, and in foodservice, consumers prefer them over their free-range chicken nuggets,” said Zagla. “We are excited to expand on the success of the platform, and we expect this category to be a valuable addition to our brand.”

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And while the overall plant-based meat category has struggled somewhat since 2020, Impossible reported that its U.S. retail sales grew 50 percent in the past year.

“We’ve said from day one that we want to be featured in the same space as animal meat,” the spokesperson said. “This includes offering consumers a comparable level of choice to animal meat. Impossible Beef Light is a meaningful step toward that goal.”

“We are excited about the prospect of continuing to innovate with our beef from plant platform.”

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