Citing an anonymous source ‘familiar with the matter’, Bloomberg reported today that California-based plant-based meat startup Impossible Foods is going to lay off 20% of its workforce or approximately 100 employees.
Very few additional details about the layoff announcements are available though the reporter did write that the same source said the company “offered voluntary separation payments and benefits to employees at the end of 2022” and that Bloomberg viewed internal documents that confirmed separation packages. Impossible has yet to officially confirm or deny the news.
Editor’s Note: Green Queen has reached out to Impossible Foods for comment and this piece will be updated with new information.
The maker of the Impossible Burger announced a 6% job cut in October of last year, which it attributed to company restructuring; CEO Peter McGuinness said in a memo the axed roles had either “become redundant to others in the organization” or “no longer aligned with our core business priorities.”
Earlier this month, Bloomberg BusinessWeek dropped a controversial cover story in its print edition decrying plant-based meat a failed ‘fad’, which drew backlash and extended commentary. In response, Impossible took out a cheeky advert in The New York Times and published a heated reply titled “Bloomberg was supposed to report the facts. It just became another opinion piece” on their website, describing the piece as “pages rife with one-sided anecdotes and editorialized framing” and concluded: “the reality is that the plant-based meat category is still young and yet to be fully defined. We’re proud of our leadership in the category, even if that means we take the heat sometimes.”
In a TIME interview about the Bloomberg BusinessWeek piece that came out two days ago in which the reporter described McGuiness as “hopping mad”, he said of the fad accusation: “We’re in a category that is in first gear. It hasn’t even been created yet, and people are trying to say that it’s the death of it, or it’s a fad. In the beginning, the internet was a fad. In the beginning, cars were a fad and horses were going to stay. Electric cars were a fad. I just don’t like the implication, nor do I think it’s accurate.” He added that Impossible Foods currently has 17% consumer awareness, noting that “83% of the country’s never even heard of us…95% of the country hasn’t even tried us yet, and we’re still growing at those growth rates.”
Despite flat or declining North American grocery sales for the plant-based meat sector, Impossible shared it had achieved a 50% increase in US retail sales in 2022, a year that saw it debut vegan beef in Australia and New Zealand, partner with Kroger on co-branded vegan meat products, expand its Burger King partnerships to include its plant-based chicken patties, launch its chicken nuggets in Hong Kong and add more foodservice offerings to its lineup aimed at school systems and other public procurement channels. Two weeks ago, Impossible collaborated with 7-Eleven Canada on the retail chain’s first plant-based breakfast sandwich featuring Impossible™ Sausage at 550 stores nationwide.
In addition, the company beefed up its C-Suite, adding former SVP and General Manager at Newell Brands Sherene Jagla as its inaugural Chief Demand Officer, Leslie Sims as its first Chief Marketing and Noel Clark as Senior Vice President of International. In April 2022, Impossible’s founder Pat Brown stepped down as CEO and McGuiness, formerly COO at Chobani Foods, stepped in to run the startup.
Competitor Beyond Meat, whose stock price continues to take a beating, also announced layoffs this past October, removing 19% of its workforce amidst “cost-reduction initiatives intended to reduce operating expenses.”