Impossible Foods Signals Australia & New Zealand Market Entry Amid IPO Buzz
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Impossible Foods has is gearing up to enter Australia and New Zealand, posting a job advertisement for a regional role as the plant-based industry in these markets report a record year of sales. The much-anticipated introduction of its famous heme-filled patties in the fast-growing plant-based market in Australasia comes amid talks of its US$10 billion IPO.
U.S. food tech giant Impossible Foods is now advertising for a new Australia and New Zealand Country Manager role on LinkedIn, suggesting that the firm is gearing up to roll out its plant-based burgers in new markets in the coming months. The role will involve managing distribution, new sales and growing existing accounts, according to the job description.
The Silicon Valley plant-based meat maker first signalled its Australian foray when it sought approval for its genetically-modified heme back in 2019, the ingredient that gives its patties the iron-rich mouthfeel that resembles real animal meat. In an approval report available on its website dated 15 December 2020, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) said it “has assessed an application made by Impossible Foods Inc. for the voluntary addition of soy leghemoglobin, produced by microbial fermentation, in meat analogue products” and that FSANZ “approved the draft variation on 1 December 2020 […] and the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation was notified of FSANZ’s decision on 15 December 2020.”
Impossible will be competing in a fast-growing market, with 2020 marking a record year for the Australian plant-based industry. A recent Food Frontier analysis reported 46% year-on-year growth in retail sales, while manufacturing revenues in the country increased from AU$35 million to AU$70 million (approx. US$27 million to US$54 million).
These figures were driven by the strong line of homegrown players who have already established a presence with local consumers, among them Australia-based plant-based burger marker v2food, who boasts multiple partnerships with Burger King across Asia.
Others include mushroom-based meat brand Fable Food, Fenn Foods, the maker of carbon-neutral Veef, as well as New Zealand-based chicken and bacon startup Sunfed Foods. Deliciou has become the latest to join the cohort, having recently bagged seed funding to grow its shelf-stable meat alternative range.
Impossible, best known for its plant-based beef patties, has extended its line-up to include plant-based sausage and has made its intentions clear to develop alternatives for all animal-based products, including milk and seafood, in line with its sustainability mission to eliminate animal agriculture.
The food tech’s burgers come at a fraction of the environmental footprint of real meat, requiring 75% less water and 95% less land and emitting 87% less greenhouse gases than a conventional patty.
Outside of the U.S., Impossible Foods is available via foodservice and retail in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as Canada, where it has most recently landed a partnership with Burger King Canada to launch the Impossible Whopper nationwide. Much of the company’s expansion came over the past year, with propelling its “largest operational expansion” in its 10-year history.
Shortly after launching a mass-market national advertising campaign to target flexitarian consumers, Impossible Foods made headlines with sources close to the company saying it plans to float on the stock market and seeking a valuation of US$10 billion or more – a figure far higher than the firm’s US$4 billion valuation in 2020, but on par with Oatly’s confidentially filed IPO that is reportedly aiming for the same number.
Unlike Oatly, however, Impossible Foods is rumoured to be favouring going public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a popular route that companies have taken since last year. Other startups that have listed through a SPAC deal include AeroFarms, space travel company Virgin Galactic and soon-to-be WeWork IPO.
Lead image courtesy of Impossible Foods.