Impossible vs. Beyond: Battle for America’s meat alternative heats up
By Joe Loria
The food rivalry of the century.
In an article this week Forbes named plant-based meats as the food trend to watch in 2020. There’s no doubt about it, plant-based burgers and sausages are hitting the mainstream; with at least a dozen new product launches from quick-service and family-friendly restaurants this year—bringing sustainable, animal-friendly options to the four corners of the country.
The two companies leading the plant-based foods insurgency—the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods and the newly-floated Beyond Meat—currently stand alone in the side competition for America’s meat craving. And the battle is just getting started. Currently, the Impossible Burger is available at more than 10,000 US restaurants and Beyond Burgers are sold by at least 18 major restaurant chains across the country.
One of those chains is Denny’s, the family-friendly chain with more than 1,700 locations throughout the United States. “As a company we strive to evolve with the tastes and demands of our customers and we knew finding a plant-based option that met our incredibly high-quality standards and taste expectations was critical in staying at the top of our game” John Dillon, chief brand officer for Denny's recently communicated to us by email. “The new Beyond Burger at Denny's offers guests a great tasting burger, and we're delighted to launch it in Los Angeles, and will be preparing for the national rollout in 2020.”
Another is the Baja-style chain Taco Del Mar, which announced just last week that it will be rolling out its Beyond Beef Fiesty Crumbles nationwide after a successful test earlier this year. “Introducing a plant-based protein to our menu allows us to offer our meat-eating customers looking to reduce their meat intake an option that doesn’t sacrifice on taste, and also expands our vegetarian and vegan options” Chef Mike Gieseman, Director of Culinary and Innovation for REGO Restaurant Group, which owns Taco Del Mar, told us via press release.
As for the Impossible Burger, it is clear that its partnership with Burger King was a major moment for both companies. According to CNN, sales at Burger King restaurants rose 5% in the third quarter of 2019—the strongest growth since 2015. Burger King’s parent company attributed the success to its new Impossible Whopper, which has been rolled out to all 7,000-plus Burger King locations throughout the United States.
Driving this global shift towards plant-based eating is consumers becoming increasingly concerned about the planet, their health, and animal welfare. Sales of meat alternatives grew by 30% in 2018 and the global meat alternative market is expected to be worth a whopping $140 billion in just ten years.
With demand expected to continue to surge into next year, we are likely see the competition between Impossible and Beyond heat up even further.
Both companies are competing neck and neck to land on the menus of America’s favorite food chains. In addition to the ones already listed, Beyond Meat has won over TGI Friday’s, Dunkin’, Del Taco, Subway, Carl’s Jr. and more. Whereas you can find the Impossible Burger at White Castle, The Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, and Hard Rock Cafés nationwide just to name a few.
While the Beyond Meat versus Impossible Foods matchup may remind many of the iconic Pepsi versus Coca Cola rivalry, the winner in this race will be the billions of animals suffering on factory farms. Treated more like cogs in a machine, than living, breathing, feeling animals, they endure short, miserable lives and are often crammed together in cages, crates or pens which prevents them from engaging in natural behavior.
We applaud all the restaurant chains investing in a healthy, sustainable and kinder future. And wish both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat the very best because if we want to protect the planet, our health and animals, we need to ensure plant-based foods are widely available for consumer to enjoy.