Vegetarian burgers may finally be getting the recognition they need to go mainstream. On Monday Burger King and Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods announced the rollout of the Impossible Whopper in 59 stores in and around St. Louis, Missouri.
To mark the launch on April Fool’s day, the burger giant released a hidden-camera-style promo video showing the serving of plant-based Whoppers instead of meat to customers who marvel that they cannot tell the difference.
“We wanted to make sure we had something that lived up to the expectations of the Whopper,” said Burger King’s North America president, Christopher Finazzo. “We’ve done sort of a blind taste test with our franchisees, with people in the office, with my partners on the executive team, and virtually nobody can tell the difference.”
The Impossible Whopper comes at an extra cost – about a dollar more than the beef patty Whopper. But Finazzo said research shows consumers are willing to pay more for the plant-based burger.
Plant-based meat substitutes have been gaining popularity as more attention is focused on the environmental hazards of industrial ranching. Finazzo said his research shows customers mainly like it for the health benefits. The Impossible Burger patty has zero cholesterol.
Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, California, launched its first faux meat patty over two years ago. A genetically modified yeast creates the key ingredient, called heme, which makes the patties appear to bleed and taste like real meat.
Burger King is not the first to serve up a no-meat burger. Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat in early January announced it was rolling out its plant-based burger at fast-food chain Carl’s Jr. Beyond Meat counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft founder Bill Gates as investors. It filed for an initial public offering in November.
Finazzo said Burger King also researched Beyond Meat, but decided that Impossible Foods’, which also counts Gates as an investor, offering was a better fit. “Around the taste, around the brand recognition, around the price, all those things were important factors in choosing Impossible,” he said.
Impossible Foods tailored a patty specifically for the Whopper, Chief Executive Pat Brown said.
“We’re now in well over 6,000 restaurants. If the Burger King launch is as successful as I expect it to be, and we go nationwide, that will add more than 7,000 restaurants that serve the Impossible Burger,” Brown said.
Impossible also counts Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Horizons Ventures and Singapore-based investment firm Temasek as investors. Impossible has been making inroads in Asia as well.
Last year total U.S. retail sales of plant-based meat substitutes grew over 23 percent to exceed $760 million, according to Nielsen sales data analyzed by The Good Food Institute, a non-profit promoting plant-based alternatives to animal products.
Burger King rivals, food conglomerates and meat packers are cooking up more plant-based burgers. McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest fast-food chain, sells soy-based burgers in Finland and Sweden. Tyson Foods has a stake in Beyond Meat.
Nestle S.A. is planning to debut its “Incredible Burger” soon in Europe. Unilever Plc late last year announced its acquisition of The Vegetarian Butcher to build out its plant-based portfolio.
Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Leslie Adler and Susan Thomas
How Trump’s limited intellectual development has given him a ‘God complex’
Trump's lack of respect for the country's long-standing democratic norms and institutions also extends to America's alliances, security arrangements with its allies and friends, and the international order more broadly. To that end Trump has threatened to remove the U.S. from NATO, hailed the merits of nationalism (while barely pretending that does not mean white nationalism), tried to surrender U.S. security to Russian President Vladimir Putin and proclaimed on numerous occasions that America will now stand (mostly) alone in the world.
This story first ran at Salon in November of 2018.
Danish media crushes ‘questionable real estate agent’ Trump for his ‘absurd’ snub of their country
President Donald Trump has found himself getting skewered by the Danish media after he abruptly canceled a planned meeting with the Danish prime minister after she refused to sell Greenland to the United States.
Copenhagen-based newspaper Berlingske on Wednesday published several articles and editorials that took Trump to task for snubbing an important European ally because it would not entertain selling him Greenland.
The paper's lead editorial, for example, declared Trump's cancellation "absurd" and said that he was deeply harming his country's relationship with Denmark.
Amid recession warnings, Trump reportedly considering more tax cuts for rich and corporations
"Two of Trump's ideas for stimulating the economy are 1) cutting the corporate tax rate a little more (after cutting it a lot didn't do much), and 2) indexing capital gains to inflation. It's tax cuts for the rich all the way down."
While continuing to publicly downplay warning signs that the U.S. economy is barreling toward a recession, the Trump White House is reportedly weighing a number of supposed stimulus measures, including more tax cuts for the rich and large corporations.