Impossible Burger to make (California) supermarket debut
The Impossible Burger is coming to a grocery store near you.
The meat-imitating burger that “bleeds” will make its retail debut Friday at Gelson’s Markets, a 27-store grocery chain in California, with plans to expand to the East Coast later this month and nationwide next year.
At launch, Impossible Foods is selling a 12-ounce pack of plant-derived ground “beef” that will sit next to conventional animal-based beef in Gelson’s meat and pre-pack deli sections.
Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods has previously sold its alternative meat products only to restaurants, notably including Burger King, which has seen success with its Impossible Whopper. The Silicon Valley company’s push into grocery stores will allow Impossible Foods to compete directly with Beyond Meat and a growing list of plant-based alternatives gaining traction in supermarkets as the brands battle for the attention of diners seeking alternatives to beef.
Gelson’s Chief Merchandising Officer, John Bagan, said he expects vegetarians and flexitarians alike to test out the new product. “Certainly some of them are vegetarian and vegan, but many of them are meat eaters just trying something new or changing up their routine a little bit,” he said.
The U.S. market for plant-based foods is growing quickly, reaching $4.5 billion between April 2018 and 2019 according to data compiled by the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing the category. Big players in the food industry have begun to take notice.
Kellogg Co. recently announced plans to launch a new plant meat product, the Incogmeato burger, under its Morningstar Farms brand. Tyson Foods, an early investor in Beyond Meat, just bought into the plant-based shrimp company, New Wave Foods, through its venture capital arm. And the grocery chain Kroger is also starting its own brand of meat alternatives and testing a dedicated plant-based protein section in its meat aisle to see if it can draw in a wider set of customers.
“Plant-based meats are often only sold in those parts of the store that dedicated vegans and vegetarians are likely to find them,” said Michele Simon, executive director at the Plant Based Foods Association. “To reach the more mainstream shopper, we have to put them in those parts of the store where they’re likely to see them."