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During an exclusive virtual media conference held today (October 20), which featured the food tech’s senior executives attended by Green Queen, Impossible Foods officially announced the first retail launch of its plant-based products in Asia. From this week onwards, consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore will be able to purchase plant-based Impossible Beef in major supermarket outlets including the biggest chain in Hong Kong, ParknShop, and in Singapore’s FairPrice. It comes shortly after the Silicon Valley startup’s newly debuted Impossible Sausage product made its first foray into the Asian market in a citywide partnership with Starbucks Hong Kong and collaborating restaurants.
Today (October 20), Impossible Foods is establishing its retail footprint in Asia for the first time, launching its Impossible Beef product across nearly 200 grocery stores in Hong Kong and Singapore. In Hong Kong, consumers will be able to purchase the plant-based beef alternative across 100 ParknShop locations, including in its subsidiary brands Fusion, Taste, Food Le Parc and Great Food Hall, as well as via online delivery via the ParknShop website. It will retail at HK$89.90 per 340 gram package. In Singapore, Impossible Beef will be available at close to 100 FairPrice stores and on RedMart, the city-state’s biggest online grocery platform, sold for SG$16.90 per 340 gram retail package.
It marks the first time that consumers in the two cities will be able to directly purchase the plant-based beef alternative to cook at home in their kitchens, after the food tech tested the business model amid coronavirus pandemic lockdowns when it gave its foodservice partners the go ahead to resell their Impossible Beef inventory to customers, firstly in Singapore back in May, then in Hong Kong in August.
“The world’s most respected chefs consistently tell us that the Impossible Burger blows them away. And we can’t wait for Hong Kong and Singapore’s home chefs to experience the same magic in their own kitchens – whether using Impossible Beef in their traditional family favorites or inventing new recipes that go viral,” said Patrick Brown, Impossible Foods founder and CEO.
“Hong Kong and Singapore have been great launching pads for us, they have an amazing culinary culture here. It’s been so eye-opening to us and we’ve learned a lot. In the U.S. it’s such a burger heavy market, but here, we can try so many things – meatballs, dumplings, all sides of global cuisines. Just this year, even with such a challenging environment, we’ve seen a huge increase in our restaurant sales. So when we thought about where to launch our international retail, it was clear that Hong Kong and Singapore were going to be the markets,” added Nick Halla, senior vice president of international at Impossible Foods, during the conference.
Just this year, even with such a challenging environment, we’ve seen a huge increase in our restaurant sales. So when we thought about where to launch our international retail, it was clear that Hong Kong and Singapore were going to be the markets.Nick Halla, SVP International, Impossible Foods
Impossible’s move comes as the firm makes significant inroads into consumer retail as more decide to cook at home instead of dining out. Earlier in June, the food tech launched its first direct-to-consumer website in the U.S. where customers can order bulk-sized packages for delivery to their doors.
“We had to pivot quickly to get our consumers access to retail because of coronavirus and that’s been really successful. In the U.S. we’ve achieved about a 100-fold increase in our retail footprint,” Brown told reporters.
Soon after, Impossible landed on the shelves of Walmart, the biggest retailer in their domestic U.S. retail market, and has since grown its point-of-sales to over 11,000 outlets nationwide. And according to the company, 92% of sales of its famous bleeding plant-based Impossible Burger is directly displacing animal-derived meats from consumers who are actively shifting away from all meat categories.
We had to pivot quickly to get our consumers access to retail because of coronavirus and that’s been really successful. In the U.S. we’ve achieved about a 100-fold increase in our retail footprint.Patrick Brown, Founder & CEO, Impossible Foods
But with Asian consumers on board – a key market that Impossible has time and again signalled as its target – the environmental impact of more consumers opting for its plant-based alternative could be huge. The brand’s “impact calculator” says that its meatless beef uses 96% less land, 87% less water and emits 89% fewer greenhouse gases compared to conventional beef.
And if the current rising plant-based and flexitarian trend amongst Hong Kong and Singapore consumers continues, establishing its retail footprint in both cities could be a strong play for the food tech. Since the beginning of this year, sales of Impossible Beef at partnering restaurants have shot up 150% across Hong Kong and Macau and 120% in Singapore.
Plant-based meat has been a big growing trend, and we’ve begun to introduce more to our shelves and we’ve seen sales triple within just this year.Malina Ngai, COO, Watsons Group
“We’re really excited to be the first retailer to launch Impossible Beef. It’s important for us to give that sustainable choice to our customers. In Hong Kong, our ongoing research has shown that they care about the environment, so we’re giving them the choice now. Plant-based meat has been a big growing trend, and we’ve begun to introduce more to our shelves and we’ve seen sales triple within just this year,” Malina Ngai, chief operating officer of ParknShop’s parent company, Watsons Group, said at the press conference.
Other plant-based brands have too seen their products garner greater shows of support. Take Green Monday’s vegan pork mince analogue OmniPork, for instance, which has been added onto the menus of the biggest food players in town, including in all McDonald’s and 7-Eleven locations across the city, no doubt in response to demand from their customers.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth year-on-year on customers searching for plant-based products, and it’s translated into sales across a number of categories and meat alternatives being one of them. Impossible has been a top search term too, so we know there is enormous demand here in Singapore and it’s exciting to be the first online retailer to launch Impossible Beef in the city,” said Richard Ruddy, chief retail officer at RedMart Singapore.
When asked about Impossible’s price parity with conventional animal products and Brown was clear that plant-based meats will be cheaper in the short term: “Within a few years, all of the products we make will be less expensive than the animal version,” he predicted.
One particular highlight during the course of the press conference was when Pat Brown was asked directly about the political turmoil surrounding places like the U.S. and mainland China. He was clear that they don’t get consider politics when tackling new markets: “Would we not launch in a market whose politics we don’t agree with? The answer is no. If we said no, we’re only going into places with whose policies we are in complete agreement, it would thwart our entire mission.”
“There’s nothing contradictory about us going into a place whether or not we are fully aligned with their politics. We’re not engaged in politics. We’re engaged in an environmental mission, a public health mission,” he added.
Update: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the retail price of Impossible Beef in Hong Kong stores.
Lead image courtesy of Impossible Foods.