Impossible Foods CEO Says No 2023 IPO As Company Debuts 3 New Plant-Based Chicken Products Amidst Record Growth
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Amidst record sales growth, Impossible Foods has grown its ‘meat made from plants’ range with three new retail plant-based chicken products while additional layoffs confirmed.
California food tech Impossible Foods has expanded its plant-based chicken offerings with the launch of three new products namely Impossible™ Spicy Chicken Nuggets, Impossible™ Spicy Chicken Patties, and Impossible™ Chicken Tenders that will be available in the frozen aisle at select retailers, with national availability coming in the next few months.
These new additions add to their existing selection of plant-based beef, pork and sausage, as well as the chicken nuggets they launched back in 2021 and the Wild Nuggies™ aimed at children that come in various endangered animal shapes. Impossible tested a chicken patty format last year when it tested them at Burger King US at select locations in Ohio.
The plant-based chicken space is becoming increasingly busy. Competitor Beyond Meat debuted its plant-based chicken tenders in 2021 and launched them at retailers last year. Newer entrant TiNDLE announced a new line of retail products including plant-based chicken patties, nuggets, tenders, popcorn chicken and wings in Germany and says it will debut them in the US later this year. Other popular brands in North America include Daring Foods, Nuggs, Quorn, Alpha Foods, Vegan Fried Chick*n (VFC) and Gardein.
The Impossible difference
In a press release, the company cited the results of a blind consumer test that showed their nuggets outperformed those of a leading animal chicken brand 3-to-1, with participants ranking them higher on flavor, texture and overall appearance.
“Our chicken products caught on fast with consumers, and they’ve served as a successful entry-point to our brand,” said newly appointed Chief Demand Officer Sherene Jagla. “In retail, our original nuggets are leading the plant-based chicken category in dollar sales, and in food service, consumers prefer them to animal chicken nuggets. We’re excited to expand on the platform’s success, and we expect this category to continue to be valuable for our brand.”
Impossible Foods was founded in 2011 by Stanford scientist Pat Brown with a mission to help end industrial animal agriculture by creating meat from plants. The company’s signature Impossible Burger made headlines across the world when it was first unveiled in 2016. According to a lifecycle analysis published on the company’s website, Impossible chicken products use “44% less water, 49% less land, and emit 36% less greenhouse gas emissions than their animal counterparts.”
Media backlash amidst ‘record sales’ & no IPO in 2023
The plant-based meat industry has faced strong media backlash and flat US retail sales of late, but Impossible has repeatedly said it is on a growth trajectory, with retail sales up 55% year on year. When asked if the growth included food service and other business verticals, a company spokesperson told Green Queen the company was strong performance across the board.
Impossible Foods said in a statement it has “achieved record sales in 2022” and is the “fastest-growing plant-based meat brand in US retail stores” with its plant-based beef product described as “the best-selling product by volume of any plant-based meat brand in the US”.
In an interview with TIME magazine, CEO Peter McGuinness said that the plant-based category was in its earliest days and critiques were one-sided, commenting, “You have a $7 to $8 billion global category of plant-based meat that’s been around for 20 years, and it’s a fad?”
He added that the category is still relatively unknown by the average consumer “I believe it’s yet to be built and created” and has plenty of room to expand. “Right now, we have 17% awareness. So 83% of the country’s never even heard of us. We have 5% household penetration; 95% of the country hasn’t even tried us yet, and we’re still growing at those growth rates”.
McGuinness reiterated his views yesterday on the Fox Business TV show The Claman Countdown: “We’re not a fad or a flop. We’re just getting started, as is the category.”
On the subject of going public, McGuinness told host Liz Claman the company is well capitalized and there won’t be an IPO this year saying “we’ll do an IPO when we need to do an IPO”.
The company’s products are stocked at over 30,000 grocery stores and used in over 45,000 food service locations across the US, and the brand has entered 8 different countries and territories worldwide including Australia, the UK, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
More layoffs announced
Like many Bay area companies, particularly in the tech sector, the company has announced layoffs, first in October, when it confirmed a 6% reduction in staff, and last week, with Food Dive reporting the company had cut 132 jobs including engineers, researchers and scientists, citing filings made with the California Employment Development Department.
When asked if the job cuts would impact Impossible’s near-term R&D plans, a company spokesperson told Green Queen: “We took steps last week to position our business for sustainable, balanced growth over the long term by bringing our costs more in line with our revenue, which includes reducing our workforce. We remain very confident in the strength of our business and our future growth, and we’re grateful to all of the talented, dedicated employees who have contributed to our mission”.