Impossible Foods vs. Beyond Meat: 5 Key Differences You Should Know
May 2nd, 2019
2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year with several tech companies gearing up for IPOs. Amongst them is a highly anticipated food technology startup called Beyond Meat, which is planning to disrupt the consumption of meat as we know it. The company is raising $240 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. Beyond Meat plans to accelerate all aspects of the business through the capital raised and hopes to move the world closer to plant-based protein that mimics animal-based meat.
Although Beyond Meat considers all meat producers to be its competitors, realistically the company competes against Impossible Foods, another ode to the fake meat movement. Impossible Foods has created their version of meatless burgers called Impossible Burgers, which also uses plant-based proteins. Although the company hasn’t officially set its eyes on an IPO, the CEO’s comments concerning turning down an acquisition by Google indicate a possible IPO for Impossible Foods in the coming years. Nevertheless, to understand the two companies better, let’s break down their key differences.
Funding and ValuationIn terms of private funding, Beyond Meat has raised $122M from high profile investors such as General Mills and Tyson Foods (which has liquidated their 6.5% equity stake ahead of the IPO). Beyond Meat has also enjoyed the backing of VC giants Kleiner Perkins in addition to a slew of traditional agricultural investors. Impossible Foods, on the other hand, has raised three times the capital as Beyond Meat, totaling $388M with investors including Khosla Ventures and Temasek Holdings. Curiously, Bill Gates has opted to back both horses by investing in the two companies.
ProductionWith two production facilities in Missouri totaling 100,000 square feet, Beyond Meat produces and sells its plant-based products in over 33,000 grocery stores, restaurants and hotels in the U.S. One main appeal of Beyond Meat’s products are that its 100% plant-based recipe is less resource intensive compared to meat-based equivalents. According to a University of Michigan study commissioned by the company, each Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has more than 99% less impact on water scarcity, and 93% less impact on land.
On the other hand, Impossible Foods is producing 500,000 pounds a month in their 67,000 square foot facility, and serves over 5,000 restaurants. The company recently launched a new burger, called the Impossible Burger 2.0, and partnered with White Castle and Burger King to sell it. Impossible Foods claims that the Impossible Burger 2.0 will reduce aquatic eutrophication by 78%, global warming by 60%, land occupation by more than 99%, and water consumption by 79%.
It should be no surprise based on the statistics above that environmentalists are cheering the rise of these plant-based meat alternatives.
ManagementThe two companies have highly motivated founders. Beyond Meat was started by Ethan Brown, who turned vegan himself after his experiences working on his father’s dairy farm. Seeing the lack of plant-based options in the main stream fast food culture, he came up with the idea to create meatless burgers and started Beyond Meat in 2009.
Impossible Foods was founded by Patrick Brown – also a vegan – who was a professor from Stanford University. While on sabbatical, he set out to solve what he saw as one of the biggest climate change contributors, animal agriculture, and started Impossible Foods in 2011.
Both companies set out to curb climate change by changing consumer habits through plant-based meat options.
ProductsBoth companies’ flagship products are their meatless burgers. Beyond Meat, though, has expanded its offerings to include sausages and ground beef. In addition, only Beyond Meat is GMO-free while both companies are gluten free. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods though have used different strategies to capture the market. Beyond Meat has primarily offered its products via grocery stores and recently has broken into the food service industry. Impossible Foods has taken the opposite tactic, focusing on the food service industry with hopes to launch in grocery stores this year.
Both companies are constantly experimenting with their formulas, attempting to mimic the taste and feel of meat. Beyond Meat expects to roll out new products in 2019, potentially including chicken. Impossible Food’s CEO has stated that he aims to completely replace the use of animals as a food production technology by creating sustainable meat, fish and dairy products directly from plants.
TasteBeyond Meat uses a proprietary system that applies heating, cooling, and pressure to align plant-proteins in the same fibrous meat structure. In addition, the company uses plant-based proteins from pea, faba beans and soy to mimic the composition of animal-based meats. Using this method, Beyond Meat claims to be able to mimic the hallmark burger “bleed.” Additionally, the company asserts that its products are vegan and non-GMO.
Impossible Foods focuses on delivering a product that has all the flavor, aroma, and beefiness of meat from cows. The company uses heme, which is a molecule found in hemoglobin, that the company believes recreates the meat-eating experience. Impossible Foods derives heme through genetically-modified yeast and asserts that its products are 100% plant-based.
Beyond Meat priced its IPO at $25, the top end of its revised range, on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The company debuts on the public markets today, testing the public markets' appetite for plant-based alternative foods.