Impossible Foods

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Impossible Foods
Industry Food
Founded 2011; 7 years ago (2011)
Founder Patrick O. Brown
Headquarters Redwood City, California, US

Impossible Foods Inc. is a company that develops plant-based meat and dairy products made without animals. Headquartered in Redwood City, California,[1] the company aims to give people the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without the negative health and environmental impacts of livestock products.[2] The company researches animal products at the molecular level, then selects specific proteins and nutrients from plants to recreate the experience of meats and dairy products from animals.[2]


In 2009, Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown decided to devote an 18-month sabbatical to eliminating industrial animal agriculture, which he determined at the time to be the world’s largest environmental problem.[3] With other academics, Brown co-organized a conference in 2010 in Washington to raise awareness.[4] But the National Research Council workshop, called "The Role of Animal Agriculture in a Sustainable 21st Century Global Food System,” had minimal impact; soon after, he decided the best way to reduce animal agriculture was to offer a competing product in the free market.[3] He started the company in 2011.[5]


An Impossible Burger, given out in November 2016 as part of a promotional event at a food truck in San Francisco.

In July 2016, Impossible Foods launched its meat analogue product, the Impossible Burger, which is made from material derived from plants.[6] The company says that making it uses 95% less land and 74% less water, and it emits about 87% less greenhouse gas than making a burger from cows.[7] The plant-based burger has more protein, less total fat, no cholesterol and fewer calories than a similar-sized hamburger patty made with beef.[8] It contains more sodium and more saturated fats than unseasoned beef patty.[9]

The restaurant Momofuku Nishi in New York, owned by David Chang, began serving the Impossible Burger in July 2016.[10] In October, the Impossible Burger became a standing menu item in selected additional restaurants in California[11] such as Jardinière and Cockscomb in San Francisco, and Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles.[12] The Michelin-starred restaurant PUBLIC, operated by Brad Farmerie, began serving the Impossible Burger in January 2017.[13]

In 2016 and 2017, Impossible Foods produced Impossible Burgers in relatively small quantities in Redwood City, California and at Rutgers, New Jersey[14] and were not available in retail locations.[15] Impossible Foods also worked on plant-based products that emulate chicken, pork, fish and dairy[16] but initially decided to concentrate on ground beef used in burgers.[17]

In March 2017, Impossible Foods announced it would build its first large-scale plant in Oakland, California to produce one million pounds of plant based burger meat a month.[11] In the first half of 2017, the Impossible Burger debuted on the menu of multi-unit franchises including Bareburger in New York City,[18] Umami Burger in California[19] and Hopdoddy in Texas.[20]

White Castle started serving Impossible Burgers in 2018.


Impossible Foods' scientists discovered that a molecule called heme is a key factor in how meat behaves.[21] Heme is the molecule that gives blood its red color and helps carry oxygen in living organisms.[22] Heme is abundant in animal muscle but is found naturally in all living organisms.[23] Plants, particularly nitrogen-fixing plants and legumes, also contain heme.[24] The heme molecule in plant-based heme is identical[25] to the heme molecule found in meat.[26]

To produce heme protein from non-animal sources, Impossible Foods selected the leghemoglobin found naturally in the roots of soy plants.[27] To make plant-based heme in large quantities, Impossible Foods' scientists then genetically engineered a yeast and used a fermentation process very similar to the brewing process used to make some types of beer.[28]

In 2014, they obtained a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) designation for the leghemoglobin in its products.[29]

The company said that its scientists created a chemical library of proteins and fats derived from plants, and experimented with them as additional ingredients to mimic the texture of meat.[30] To replicate the fat in hamburgers made from cows, Impossible Foods' plant-based burger used flecks of coconut fat, which were mixed with ground textured wheat and potato protein. The potato protein provided a firm exterior when the meat is seared.[31] The coconut oil stayed solid until heated, when it melted similarly to beef fat.[32]


Impossible Foods has raised rounds of $75 million and $108 million from investors including Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Viking Global Investors, UBS,[33] Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's Horizons Ventures and Bill Gates.[34] It was reported that Brown had turned down an offer of $300 million to buy out Impossible Foods in 2015.[17][35]

In August 2017, $75 million in additional financing was raised after reaching key objectives,[36][37] with Bill Gates investing additional money.[38]

In April 2018, an additional $114 million was raised, led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and Hong Kong based Sailing Capital, bringing the total to nearly $400 million.[39]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ "Impossible Foods". Crunch Base. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Impossible Foods". Impossible Foods. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  3. ^ a b "The Biography of a Plant-Based Burger: One man's mission to make meat obsolete". 2016-09-06. 
  4. ^ "The Role of Animal Agriculture in a Sustainable 21 st Century Global Food System: A Scoping Workshop" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Loizos, Connie. "Impossible Foods Raises a Whopping $108 Million For Its Plant-Based Burgers". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2015-10-07. 
  6. ^ Mic. "The Veggie Burger of the Future Cost $80M to Invent — And Carnivores Will Be Impressed". 
  7. ^ "Sandwich of the Week, USA Today". 2016-09-06. 
  8. ^ Hoshaw, Lindsey (June 21, 2016). "Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger Smells, Tastes And Sizzles Like Meat". NPR. Retrieved 2016-07-28. 
  9. ^ Lemonier, Gabrielle. "Great-Tasting Veggie Burgers are Here, But Are They Any Healthier?". Men's Journal. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  10. ^ "David Chang Adds Plant Based 'Impossible Burger' to Nishi Menu". 2016-07-26. 
  11. ^ a b Robinson, Melia (2017-03-22). "A startup selling 'bloody' plant-based burgers has a new factory that can make 4 million burgers a month". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  12. ^ "The Impossible Burger's West Coast Debut and the Wild Frontier of Plant-Based Meat". Forbes. 2016-10-13. 
  13. ^ "We Tried a Michelin Star Version of Silicon Valley's Plant Burger That Bleeds Like Beef". 1 February 2017. 
  14. ^ Wang, Ucilia (2017-03-02). "Can Impossible Foods and its plant burgers take on the meat industry?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  15. ^ "There's a secret ingredient in the plant-based meat Google wanted to buy for $200 million". Tech Insider. 2016-07-19. 
  16. ^ "Bleeding veggie burgers hit restaurants for first time". The Memo. 2016-07-27. 
  17. ^ a b Rufford, Nick (2017-04-16). "Can the Impossible burger save the world?". The Times. Retrieved 2017-04-18. (Subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Rainey, Clint. "The Vegan Burger That 'Bleeds' Goes Mainstream at Bareburger". 
  19. ^ Pierson, David. "Umami says its new veggie burger tastes like meat — and bleeds like meat". 
  20. ^ "You can now get Impossible Burger's". 
  21. ^ "The Justice". 2016-09-29. 
  22. ^ "The majority of oxygen in the body is transported by hemoglobin, which is found inside red blood cells". 
  23. ^ Hamza, I; Dailey, HA. "One ring to rule them all: Trafficking of heme and heme synthesis intermediates in the metazoans". Biochim Biophys Acta. 1823: 1617–32. doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.04.009. PMC 3412874Freely accessible. PMID 22575458. 
  24. ^ "This New Veggie Burger Bleeds Like Meat". 
  25. ^ "Myoglobin". 
  26. ^ "Serving up a bloody veggie burger is the trick to convincing carnivores". Inverse. 
  27. ^ "Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger Smells, Tastes And Sizzles Like Meat". 
  28. ^ "A veggie burger that 'bleeds' might convince some carnivores to eat green". Public Radio International "The World". 2016-09-23. 
  29. ^ "GRAS Notification for Soybean Leghemoglobin Protein Derived from Pichia pastoris" (PDF). 
  30. ^ Fellet, Melissae (13 October 2015). "A Fresh Take on Fake Meat". ACS Central Science. 1 (7): 347–349. doi:10.1021/acscentsci.5b00307.  open access publication – free to read
  31. ^ "Welcome to the Era of Plant-Based Meat". Food&Wine. 2016-04-16. 
  32. ^ "All about the Impossible Burger". 2016-09-12. 
  33. ^ "Forget Lab Beef, Impossible Foods' 100% Plant-Based Cheeseburger Is Our Future". Motherboard. Retrieved 2015-10-07. 
  34. ^ Katie Fehrenbacher (2014-10-08). "Meet Impossible Foods, another VC-backed veggie meat startup". Gigaom. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  35. ^ Clements, Lana (2015-07-28). "Google tries to buy vegetarian burger business". Express. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  36. ^ "Impossible Foods Closes a $75 Million Investment After Achieving Key Milestones". 
  37. ^ "Plant-Based Impossible Foods Raises Another $75 Million: Bill Gates Invests Again". 
  38. ^ "Impossible Foods closes $75M funding round". 
  39. ^ "Temasek co-leads $114m investment in Asia-bound Impossible Foods". 

External links[edit]