“It confirms that what was once seen as a fringe diet for vegetarians settling for some semblance of a meat-eating experience, is now increasingly being embraced as a healthy, delicious and mainstream lifestyle,” Zelden told Inside Retail.
“Whilst many may liken the two companies as the Coca-Cola and Pepsi of the plant-based meat category, I believe their impact will stretch far further, echoing similar disruption to the global food category to that of Microsoft and Apple for the tech sector.”
Impossible Foods has seen incredible growth in the last 12 months, with its plant-based meat products now supplied to more than 11,000 retail outlets across the US – recording a 77-fold increase in store footprint in the first six months of the pandemic.
Major retail stores across the US including Walmart, Trader Joes and Sprouts Farmers Market now stock the product, and in September the brand launched into Canada.The company also announced last year that it was doubling its R&D team to focus on the creation of plant-based milk, steak, bacon and fish.
But according to Zelden, the one threat to the Impossible Foods IPO is its $10 billion valuation.
“It not only significantly surpasses Beyond Meat’s initial listing value, but is also 2.5 times the valuation of their last private funding round in 2020,” he said.
“With Impossible Foods’ revenue currently estimated at $150 million, this is sure to have many investors questioning whether they will see the same astronomical gains made by Beyond Meat since their listing, especially given their FY revenue was far higher at $400 million.”
Entry into Australia and New Zealand
But it’s Impossible Foods’ imminent entry into Australia and New Zealand that’s generating much discussion locally.
Back in February, the Australia and New Zealand food regulators approved a submission by Impossible Foods, permitting the use of soy leghemoglobin in alternative meat products.
Soy leghemoglobin, a key ingredient in Impossible Foods products, is a protein that carries iron in plants and animals and is responsible for the colour, texture and taste of meat.
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board (FSANZ) determined that there are no health and safety risks and that approving the ingredient would create more choices for consumers wanting to reduce or eliminate animal products from their diet.
With the FSANZ tick of approval, Zelden expects Impossible Foods will make a formal announcement about its entry into Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, remarking that it will be “sooner rather than later”.
“As per the FSANZ [preliminary] December 2020 approval report, they outline that their initial plan is to import their products, thereby expediting their launch into Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“They also mention that co-manufacturers may be contracted to produce their products using locally sourced ingredients, so to me, it feels very much like a ‘land and expand’ strategy.”
The business is already actively recruiting for a number of positions via LinkedIn to help the brand build its presence locally, including for an Australia/New Zealand general manager, New Zealand senior sales and strategy manager and Australia/New Zealand senior marketing manager.
Rapid expansion in Asia
Having had major success throughout Asia in recent years, Impossible Foods is well armed for Australia and New Zealand.
The flagship product Impossible Beef rolled out at about 200 grocery stores in Hong Kong and Singapore in October, and the Impossible Sausage made its international debut with the product rolling out at all Starbucks locations in Hong Kong the month prior.
“Hong Kong was Impossible Foods’ first international market with the debut of its Impossible Burger in 2018 seeing fans line up to try it in some of Asia’s top restaurants,” Zelden said.
“It’s now available in approximately 700 restaurants across Hong Kong and Macau, plus about 550 restaurants in Singapore – that’s up 150 per cent and 120 per cent respectively in those markets since January 2020.”
Zelden is confident that a local launch would be equally fast paced causing major market disruption.
“If their growth trajectory in Asia is anything to go by, it’s likely we’ll see similar impressive momentum throughout Australia and New Zealand,” he said.