Impossible Foods, the plant-based burger company, has secured a $75 million funding round from some of the world’s richest people–as it locks into a battle with competitor Beyond Meat.
The Redwood City, California-founded company, which was already funded to the tune of $250m, won its latest injection from a group led by Singapore state-owned Temasek, that also included Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Li Ka-shing, Asia’s third-richest man.
The money will help Impossible distribute its product across the world, and support a forthcoming facility in Oakland, Ca, that it claims will produce up to 1m lbs of meatless meat per month.
It will also help the company in its fight against Beyond Meat, a fellow Californian startup that also produces 100% vegan meat. Last week Beyond announced that its product was being distributed with Kroger, America’s largest grocery chain. The tie-up adds 600 stores to Beyond’s repertoire, and triples its US footprint.
Meat–especially beef–has for years been considered one of the primary causes of climate change. While Americans are loathe to give up their beloved red meat, market research suggests that people are willing to try substitute products if the taste is as good as the real thing.
Sales of alternative-meat products almost doubled between 2013 and 2014, and are expected to rise significantly. Coupled with the rise of vegetarianism and veganism–stats suggest anywhere from 550m to 950m vegetarians worldwide–companies like Impossible and Beyond are looking at a huge, untapped market.
Impossible says it is working on other products. But for now it is concentrating on its burger, which combines wheat and potato protein, vitamins, amino acids, fats, binding agents and other ingredients with heme, the same molecule that carries oxygen in blood. The company has made a big deal of the fact its plant-based burgers “bleed” just like real beef.
There may be one snag for plant-based meat startups, however: firms around the world are racing to produce cell-based, lab-made meat, which uses animal cells to construct meat without sending any animals to slaughter. Memphis Meats and Perfect Day are among those hoping to draw people away from their favorite meaty dishes.