Arguably, no two food tech companies have played a bigger role in making it seem possible for the planet to go plant-based than California-based rivals Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both companies manufacture animal-free burger patties that look, taste and cook like beef and have conquered global audiences with their products.
Beyond Meat made history with its IPO in 2019 which soared to become the most successful offering of the year amidst a gloomy few months for newly public tech stocks. Impossible Foods also broke records with its recent funding. Seems hardly a day goes by without one or the other making headlines, and with reducing beef consumption named by scientists as the single most important thing consumers can do to lower their carbon footprint and some valuing the alternative meat sector at US$ 140 billion over the next ten years, there’s good reasons why.
Both Beyond and Impossible burgers are now available everywhere from your local veggie chain to fast-food giants to major supermarkets. You’ve most likely seen them on store shelves and menus yourself but in case you’re wondering: ‘what’s the actual difference between the two?’ Green Queen is here to save the day. Below is our in-depth comparison of the Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers, including a side by side look at the companies themselves. Funding, ingredients, who stocks them – we’ve the FULL lowdown.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in 2021 so the below information may be out of date as the companies have updated their recipes since then, please note.
Key Facts Basic Company Information
|CEO||Ethan Brown||Patrick O’Reilly Brown|
|Headquarters||El Segundo, California||Redwood City, California|
|Founder Mission||Ethan Brown hopes to eradicate the negative effects of meat on “human health, climate change, natural resources and animal welfare – we call them the ‘four horsemen’. “||Patrick Brown believes Impossible “delivers everything that is of value of meat for consumers” without having to source it from actual animals.|
|Famous Last Words||“I didn’t get into lab-grown meat because coming from the energy field, where we were trying to cost down fuel cells and couldn’t get the economics right, I feared getting involved in another big science where we couldn’t see a commercial end.” – Ethan Brown on cultivated meat in TIME.||“The only negative is that most of those products, to be honest, tend to suck, and I think that hurts us. The best thing they could do for us is make better products because every time someone who hasn’t tried our product tries one of those products, it reinforces the idea that plant-based meat replacements are terrible.” – Pat Brown on competitors in Food Dive.|
|Claim To Fame||Most successful IPO of 2019 & first vegan company to go public ever||Heme, the soy-based hemoglobin that gives the products its iron-rich meat-like bleeding quality|
|Latest Funding||Raised US$140 million privately, trades as BYND since 2019 IPO||Raised US$750 million, valued at US$ 2 billion in May 2019 Series E round|
|Share Price||US$154.34||Private Company|
|Notable Investors||Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Biz Stone, Tyson Foods, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers||Google Ventures, Bill Gates, Temasek, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Khosla Ventures, Viking Global Investors|
|Celebrity Endorsements||Leonardo DiCaprio, Kyrie Irving, Jessica Chastain, David Wright, Snoop Dogg, Lindsey Vonn, DeAndre Jordan, Shaun White, Shaquille O’Neal||Jay Z, Katy Perry, Li Ka-shing,Serena Williams, will.i.am, Trevor Noah, Kal Penn, Jaden Smith, Alexis Ohanian|
|Other Products||Beyond Sausage, Beyond Breakfast Sausage, Beyond Beef, Beyond Beef Crumbles, Beyond Chicken Strips (discontinued)||In development: plant-based sausage, chicken|
Product & Ingredient Information*
|Cruelty-Free||Yes (Vegan Action Foundation Certified)||Used animal-testing once for heme FDA certification|
|Gluten-Free||Yes||Yes (Version 2.0)|
|Halal / Kosher||Not Specified||Yes|
|Protein Source||Pea, Mung Bean & Rice Protein||Soy Protein Isolate|
|GMO||Strictly non-GMO||Contains GMO Soy|
|Protein / Serving||20g||19g|
|Texture||Dense, slightly chewy, patty format most suited to burgers||Fibrous, meat-like texture and iron-rich mouthfeel thanks to heme, minced beef format suitable for various dishes|
|Taste||Mild coconutty aftertaste, earthy pea flavour||Neutral tasting, takes on flavours well when cooked,|
|Eco Footprint vs. Beef**||– 90% less GHG emissions |
– 99% less water
– 93% less land
|– 89% less GHG emissions|
– 87% less water
– 96% less land
*All product and ingredient information is based on version 2 of the ingredient list for both companies.
**As per Beyond Meat & Impossible Foods respectively.
***Side by side comparison created by Green Queen with input from both companies on Online Labels.
Availability: Where To Find Them
|Locations||15,000 locations in 50 countries incl. US, Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore,||17,000 locations in 4 countries incl. United States, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore + on Air New Zealand|
|Average Retail Price||US$0.749/oz (two 4-oz patties at $5.99)||US$0.749/oz (12-oz block at $8.99)|
|Retail||Yes worldwide notably Tesco, Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, Green Common, Amazon Fresh, Coles, Albert Heijn||Yes, recently launched in US retailers Wegmans, Gelson’s Markets, Safeway, Kroeger|
|Major F&B Partners||McDonalds Canada (Trial), Uno Pizzeria & Grill, KFC, Subway, Del Taco, Carl’s Jr, A&W, Dunkin Donuts, TGI Fridays||Burger King, Triple O’s, Whitecastle, Sodexo, Applebee’s, Fatburger, Umami Burger, Cheesecake Factory|
|Asia Presence||Retail & Food Service in Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Australia, China coming soon||Food Service in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, other Asian locations coming soon|
The Juicy Details: What People Say
|Thrillist’s Lee Breslouer||“Strangely, kind of like a burger!…So, no, this burger would not fool a meat eater. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t damn good.”||“I loved the rush of salt and fat, the chew, and the beef-like taste in every bite. A pleasurable burger from start to finish.”|
|Uproxx Life’s Zach Johnston||“Nice crispiness to every bite and a lingering straight-off-the-fire flavor…If “meatiness” is the standard, the Beyond patty tastes dishonest. It’s caught in the uncanny valley of fake beef.”||“This burger is like a magic trick. There’s no way I’d guess this isn’t beef. The patty feels like a processed step up from the frozen meat patties you get at the grocery store in the big plastic sleeve. There’s a nice bit of give and fattiness at play.”|
|Health’s Michael Gollust||“Home cooks will find the Beyond Burger a worthy substitute for traditional veggie burgers that can be dressed up with the usual fixins to impart flavor…we noticed there’s not a ton of flavor inherent to the patty.”||“The Impossible Burger is gamier, with a flavor less like a veggie burger and more in the realm of some exotic wild meat… it’s more aggressive than that of the Beyond Burger.”|
Green Queen’s Take
|Overall||The Beyond is tasty, juicy, works really well as a burger patty, and is easy to cook- throw in all the fixings, and you’ve got yourself a pretty delicious meat-free experience. Plus, it’s non GMO and soy-free which appeals to health-conscious folks.||The Impossible is undeniably a game changer for meat eaters- the product looks, smells, tastes and cooks like ground beef, and the heme, Impossible’s secret sauce, gives it an iron-rich mouthfeel that no other product on the market has matched.|
–100% VEGAN: The company has never tested on animals and for some vegans, this is key.
–SOY-FREE: Beyond is made from pea protein
–EASY TO COOK: the convenient patty shape and simple format makes it very home-cook friendly.
–RETAIL-READY: Beyond has been available for retail purchase since day one, making it very accessible.
–IPO: Beyond is the first alternative meat to go public, and their offering was 2019’s most successful.
–MIMICS MEAT: It’s undeniable that Impossible is the closest alternative product to meat on the market today so if you are trying to convince a heavy meat eater to go plant-based, go with Impossible.
–HEME: The soy leghemoglobin (heme) is what seals the deal: Impossible says they “discovered that [heme] it’s what makes meat taste like meat” so they recreated an animal free version from soy.
–VERSATILE: Impossible meat has pull apart texture that makes it ideal for recipes like tacos, wraps, dumplings, etc.
–FUNDS RAISED: No other alternative meat company has come close to raising as much money and this has helped legitimise the alternative protein category to global investors.
|Cons||–TASTE: Some reviewers and consumers complain about the patty’s earthy taste.|
–MEATINESS: It’s a delicious, meaty patty but it is not one to one with beef in the same way as Impossible and may not convince die-hard meat eaters to switch.
–GMOs: The company makes no apologies for using GMO soy, which won’t appeal to everyone and is slowing down expansion into geographies like China and Europe.
–ANIMAL TESTING: Some vegans don’t consider Impossible truly vegan as the company did some minimal animal testing to get FDA approval for their heme (FDA requires food manufacturers to undergo animal testing for new ingredients to prove non-toxicity and safety for consumption – read founder Pat Brown’s statement on this).
–NOT FOR RETAIL: Not available for retail in most places, limited release in US, more planned soon.
In Addition: The Good, The Bad & The Technical – Full Ingredient List
|V.1^||Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color).||Water, Wheat Protein, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Yeast Extract, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.|
|V.2||Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color). ||Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.|
Impossible 2.0 removed wheat protein from the ingredient list.
^Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger transitioned globally to V.2 in 2019, while Beyond Meat switched to V.2 of the Beyond Burger last year.
Lead image courtesy of Green Queen design team.