- Impossible Foods is cutting 132 jobs in California, according to a notice filed on February 10 with the California Employment Development Department. The expected date of the layoffs will be April 11. A spokesperson with Impossible Foods would not confirm the number of people impacted by the reduction.
- The staff cuts cover a broad range of positions at the company, including more than 20 scientists, about a dozen engineers and over 12 researchers.
- The layoffs occur as the plant-based meat industry grapples with falling sales and come four months after about 6% of employees at Impossible lost their jobs as part of a company reorganization focused on future growth.
Once a sector that was rapidly adding jobs to meet its ambitious growth trajectory, the plant-based meat industry has seen another industry leader trim its ranks.
The cuts at Impossible come amid a challenging time across the plant-based space. Last year, JBS USA shuttered its Planterra plant-based business, and Beyond Meat and Maple Leaf Foods’ Greenleaf Foods both cut employees.
Impossible, which sells plant-based beef, meatballs, chicken and sausages to food service and stores, hasn’t publicly released the number of employees impacted by this reduction, or how many employees will remain at the company. Bloomberg, which was first to report the potential for job cuts earlier this month, reported Impossible had about 700 workers prior to the cuts.
Still, Impossible noted the company posted record sales in 2022, including a more than 50% jump in dollar sales at U.S. retail stores. Its flagship Impossible Beef product has been the best-selling product by volume of any plant-based meat brand in the U.S., the company said.
"We took steps last week to position our business for sustainable, balanced growth over the long term by bringing our costs more in line with our revenue, which includes reducing our workforce,” the company said in an emailed statement to Food Dive. “We remain very confident in the strength of our business and our future growth, and we're grateful to all of the talented, dedicated employees who have contributed to our mission."
For Impossible, the staffing reduction likely brings the company’s payrolls in line with current projections of plant-based meat rather than the more opportunistic goals in place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales at supermarkets of refrigerated meat alternatives declined 15.5% by volume for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 29, according to data provided by IRI OmniMarket Integrated Fresh, a Chicago-based market research firm. Volume sales during the same period slumped a sharper 16.8%.
Several factors have contributed to the drop. The industry as a whole has suffered from inflation, which has made premium-priced plant-based meat less attractive to cash-strapped consumers dealing with higher costs for everything from gasoline and healthcare to clothing and food.
Plant-based meat also has drawn criticism over its lengthy ingredient lists, as well as blame from some like Impossible founder Pat Brown that the substandard quality of certain products has turned off meat eaters, a source the industry desperately needs to sustain its growth targets.
Some in the space are still investing in new products and ideas, though. Kellogg announced last summer it was going to split off its plant-based brands as part of a company reorganization. CEO Steve Cahillane announced last week it would keep those products, which include the MorningStar Farms brand, as part of its portfolio due largely to the downturn in the category.