- Impossible Foods is launching a leaner version of its signature plant-based beef. Impossible Beef Lite has less fat — 75% less saturated fat and 45% less total fat than 90/10 lean beef from cows — as well as 21 grams of protein and 33% less sodium than a competitor’s product.
- The company says the new product isn’t a reformulation. It was designed specifically as its own product, using many of the same ingredients and processes as the main Impossible Beef product, but in a leaner form. It’s currently available in the fresh meat aisle of some retailers and will be sold nationwide in coming weeks.
- This is the latest product offering for Impossible Foods, which has worked to get its products to be at least as healthy as the meat it is intended to replace. The last major reformulation, which made its plant-based ground beef have a nutritional value closer to — or better than — animal-derived 80/20 beef, came last August.
Plant-based meat carries a bright health halo. In a 2021 study from the International Food Information Council, 39% of consumers said healthfulness was their top reason for wanting to eat plant-based products. And even though a recent research review found that plant-based products truly are healthier for consumers, it’s still a rather challenging mix when confronted with options. Plant-based meat can still have a lot of fat and sodium, which health conscious consumers may be trying to avoid.
Impossible’s new product tries to cut through the confusion by presenting an option that clearly has less of the unfavorable nutrients. Compared to the main version of its beef, Impossible Beef Lite has fewer calories, less fat and sodium and more protein. A four-ounce serving of Impossible Beef Lite has 180 calories, six grams of total fats, and 21 grams of protein. The same serving of 90/10 ground beef has 199 calories, 11 grams of total fats, and 23 grams of protein. Impossible still has more sodium — 260 milligrams versus 75 milligrams in beef — but that’s still less than the 370 milligrams of sodium in the main version of Impossible Beef.
Just as leaner ground beef is more expensive, Impossible Beef Lite will cost more than its main version. The recommended price for a 12-ounce package of Impossible’s new product is $8.99, the company said.
While the new product represents a significant nutritional improvement, an Impossible Foods spokesperson said it was designed to supplement the company’s product line. Just as ground beef with different fat contents is available for consumers who are looking for different nutritional and functional aspects, Impossible is doing the same with its plant-based meat.
The company says that Impossible Beef Lite still looks, cooks and tastes like its main products, but it’s unknown whether consumers will agree. The dry texture of some plant-based meats has been a stumbling block for consumers, and it will be interesting to see if Impossible Foods has been able to both reduce its fats and keep its product juicy. Some ingredients in plant-based meats also carry strong tastes of their own, which is a reason many products have higher sodium contents. Consumers may not react well if less sodium means more of a bitter or protein-tinged taste in Impossible Beef Lite.
The new launch is a significant step forward for Impossible Foods, and it could be a very welcome one as sales in plant-based meat as a whole stagnate. Its rival Beyond Meat is also working to position itself as a healthier alternative to boost sales. Impossible Foods does not have to report sales figures as a private company, but the company says it had more than 50% retail dollar sales growth last year. Still, products that both have the halo of plant-based meat and Nutrition Facts panels to back it up can lead to more growth.