A beef without beef as vegan burger start-ups clash


Emiko Terazono, The Financial Times

Jan 9, 2019


Two leading US plant protein start-ups are going head to head with product upgrades to their vegan burgers.


Impossible Foods, the group backed by Bill Gates and Singapore’s Temasek, launched its “Impossible Burger 2.0” this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, while Beyond Meat, which filed for an IPO late last year, introduced the “Beyond Burger 2.0” earlier this month.


Although still a small market, vegan protein food sales are growing rapidly, appealing to consumers who want to reduce their intake of meat for health and environmental reasons.


US retail sales of plant-based foods grew 17 per cent in the year to August 2018 to $3.7bn, according to Good Food Institute, a US-based not-for profit group that promotes plant-based food and laboratory-grown meat.


Both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have created products using molecular science, producing plant based meats which have a similar mouthfeel and taste to that of real meat. Both companies’ burgers “bleed” like a real burger. “Heme”, a protein which Impossible Foods’ scientists created by genetically engineering and fermenting yeast, is responsible for the Impossible Burger’s flavours and bleeding, while the Beyond Burger uses beets.


Among the improvements for its new burger, Impossible Foods has switched ingredients from wheat to soyabeans, meaning that it is gluten free, while Beyond Meat’s upgraded product has blended peas, mung beans and brown rice for a meatier taste and texture.


An increasing number of large food companies are looking to harness the growth in plant based proteins. US meat group Tyson Foods…