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At The Table With: Impossible Foods

13 January 2020 by Food&HotelAsia


How is the Impossible meat made?

Our scientists figured out the exact mechanisms by which meat flavor is generated from simple nutrients during cooking, and discovered how to use these simple nutrients to recreate meat flavor just as it happens in meat from animals, without any compromise.

The components of Impossible meat are a simple combination of plant-based ingredients: soy protein, potato protein, sunflower oil, coconut oil and heme. Heme is what we call our “magic ingredient”. Heme is a protein molecule that is found in all living things – both plants and animals – and is what makes meat taste and look like meat. It is well known as the molecule that carries oxygen in our blood and is vital for life. Heme is particularly abundant in meat, and more so in beef, and is a direct source of iron. It is uniquely responsible for the explosion of flavours that result when the meat is cooked – it looks, smells and cooks just like meat.

The magic ingredient “Heme”, Impossible Foods

The heme in the Impossible meat comes from the roots of a soy plant, and is attached to the protein, leghemoglobin. We produce it by engineering a yeast to increase its capacity to produce heme – a fermentation process very similar to beer brewing, which allows us to create heme in an efficient, sustainable and scalable way.

How are plant-based meats sustainable?

Animal agriculture occupies nearly half of the world’s land, and raising livestock for food is responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 25% of the world’s fresh water, making it one of the greatest threats to wildlife and biodiversity. Reducing the use of animals for food will liberate land and water and go a substantial way towards mitigating climate change.

We started with a ground beef alternative to directly address the fact that cattle farming has by far the biggest environmental impact compared to other livestock. For example, an Impossible Burger uses 87% less water, 96% less land, contributes 89% less greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes 92% less freshwater pollution than a burger made from beef. From a consumer’s perspective, choosing an Impossible Burger over a conventional burger will save 73 square feet of land for nature and 170 water bottles worth of fresh water. The resources saved could be used to produce crops for food and cut down on greenhouse gases immensely.

Impossible Foods’ ultimate aim is to replace animals as a food production technology. Plant-based meats will play a vital role in solving one of the planet’s most pressing challenges: sustainably feeding 9.7 billion people in 2050 while consuming far less of the earth’s precious resources.

There are debates about the health concerns arising from plant-based meats, are plant-based meats actually healthy?

Impossible Foods’ philosophy towards health is this: We strive to make products that are at least as nutritious as the products we are trying to replace. Our Nutrition and Sustainability Teams, among others, are involved at every major decision point to ensure we are moving forward with the healthiest, most sustainable, and scalable prototype possible.

Our plant-based Impossible Burger delivers as much protein and bioavailable iron as animal-derived beef, all without the downsides associated with beef. The Impossible Burger has no animal hormones, antibiotics, slaughterhouse contaminants, fecal matter or other toxins that can be found in ground beef from cows. Please see our Safety and Transparency Report for more details, and read this blog post for specific questions on heme and health.

Is there a significant difference between western and Asian countries, in terms of their acceptance of plant-based proteins?

Our goal has never been to create a product for people who want plant-based meat. Our target consumers are meat eaters. Impossible Foods makes meat for meat lovers, without compromise in taste, texture or nutrition. We believe that producing delicious, affordable and nutritious meats from plants can satisfy people’s cravings and feed the growing world population while consuming far fewer of earth’s natural resources.

So far we’ve had a lot of success in the US, a western country, and in Asia. The US is available in more than 17,000 restaurants across the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau. Since March 2019, sales in Asia have grown six times.

Impossible™ Croissan’wich®, an upcoming product for Burger King, Impossible Foods.

Can we get a quote from you about the future of impossible meat?

Impossible Foods was founded to completely replace animals as a food production technology, and we will continue to focus on developing delicious meat made from plants and making those products as affordable and accessible as possible. The goal is to produce a full range of meat and dairy products from plants for every region in the world.

What are some challenges Impossible foods faced when first entering the market back in 2016, and what are some challenges you face now?

There will always be challenges in launching such a disruptive product, especially within an industry that has seen very little disruption over decades. That is why we relied entirely on the deliciousness of our product to reach the hearts and minds of consumers. It has never been about convincing people to join or even agree with our mission, but simply to offer them a delicious plant-based meat that they can easily choose over the animal version.

Upcoming Impossible Pork, Impossible Foods.

Today, Impossible Foods is in over 17,000 restaurants across the U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, and we recently launched in more than 100 grocery stores in the US in September of this year. Ensuring that we are equipped to meet such exponential demand will continue to be both a challenge and a top priority for Impossible Foods, as demand is skyrocketing in all areas of our business. So solve this problem, we launched a co-manufacturing collaboration in the fall of 2019 with one of the largest food producers in the world, OSI Group. It has more than 65 facilities in 17 countries, and OSI will help expand production of the Impossible meat throughout the year and thereafter.

Try their plant-based meats at FHA-Food & Beverage from 31 March to 3 April 2020, Singapore Expo, Impossible Foods Booth 8P1-01. Pre register before 25th February and save SGD$80 on admission fees.