Impossible Foods cashes in on meat industry slowdown

Plant-based Impossible Foods on Tuesday said it will start selling its flagship burgers in supermarket chain Kroger Co's 1,700 stores in the United States.

That comes as sales hit records in april, says CEO Pat Brown.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PAT BROWN, IMPOSSIBLE FOODS CEO, SAYING:

"We've seen since early March when the covid pandemic first started affecting businesses a sustained increase, a very substantial increase, in sales in grocery stores, record sales in April, big surges through food delivery services."

The company gained popularity after the creation of its 'Impossible Burger' that many consumers, even non-vegetarians and non-vegans, say tastes remarkably like 'real' meat.

Kroger, which also operates Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Smith's and other stores, will sell the vegan burgers online as well on Kroger.com for curbside pickup and delivery, starting Tuesday.

As beef and pork producers including Tyson Foods have signaled disruptions to the U.S. food supply chain as they are forced to shut many meat plants to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Brown told Reuters keeping its product on the store shelves is a top priority.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PAT BROWN, IMPOSSIBLE FOODS CEO, SAYING:

"I would say for millions of people who are our consumers, we are an essential part of the food chain. For many of our consumers, we are the meat supply, and so we take that responsibility very seriously. We're not going to compromise safety for our employees, but we're going to do what we can to prevent disruptions to the supply."

Impossible's biggest rival, Beyond Meat, already sells in about 2,700 U.S. grocery stores, including Albertsons and Safeway.

Impossible Foods expects to dramatically expand its retail footprint this year as demand for plant-based meat soars both in retail and restaurants among environmentally-conscious customers.

Video Transcript

- Plant-based Impossible Foods on Tuesday said it will start selling its flagship burgers in supermarket chain Kroger company's 1,700 stores in the United States. That comes as sales hit records in April, says CEO Pat Brown.

PAT BROWN: We've seen, since early March, when the COVID pandemic first started affecting businesses, a sustained increase, a very substantial increase in our sales in grocery stores, record sales in April, big surge in sales through food delivery services.

- The company gained popularity after the creation of its Impossible Burger that many consumers, even non-vegetarians and non-vegans, say tastes remarkably like real meat. Kroger, which operates Fred Meyer, Ralph's, Smith's, and other stores will sell the vegan burgers online as well as on Kroger.com for curbside pickup and delivery starting Tuesday.

As beef and pork producers, including Tyson Foods, have signaled disruptions to the US food supply chain as they are forced to shut many meat plants to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Brown told Reuters keeping its product on the store shelves is a top priority.

PAT BROWN: I would say millions of people who are our consumers, we are an essential part of the food supply chain. For many of our consumers, we are the meat supply. And so we take that responsibility very seriously. We're not going to compromise safety for our employees, but, you know, we're going to do what we can to prevent disruptions to the supply.

- Impossible's biggest rival, Beyond Meat, already sells in about 2,700 US grocery stores including Albertsons and Safeway. Impossible Foods expects to dramatically expand its retail footprint this year as demand for plant-based meat soars in both retail and restaurants among environmentally conscious consumers.