- Impossible Foods announced Monday it closed a $500 million funding round, bringing the plant-based meat giant's total funding to nearly $1.3 billion. The lead investor is South Korea-based Mirae Asset Global Investments, which made its first investment in Impossible Foods. Other participants in the round include repeat investors Khosla Ventures, Horizons Ventures and Temasek, and celebrities including Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Serena Williams.
- The company plans to use the money to invest in more research and innovation, help it scale up and expand its retail presence — both in the United States and abroad — and commercialize new products including Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage.
- "Our mission is to replace the world’s most destructive technology — the use of animals in food production — by 2035,” Impossible Foods Founder and CEO Patrick Brown said in the release announcing the funding. “To do that, we need to double production every year, on average, for 15 years and double down on research and innovation. ... Our investors not only believe in our mission, but they also recognize an extraordinary opportunity to invest in the platform that will transform the global food system."
The funding round for Impossible Foods comes at a critical time to help it expand.
As the company gets into new areas of food and works to make price parity with conventional meat a reality by slashing how much it sells the product to distributors for by 15%, this new funding round provides the company with the financial resources it needs for those initiatives — as well as providing it with an ample cushion to keep progressing.
However, Impossible Foods had all of that going before the coronavirus appeared and millions of people hunkered down to slow its spread. In the midst of the pandemic's toll on the world economy, it may seem odd for a company — even one as trendy and successful as Impossible Foods — to close $500 million in new funds. Just last week, capital investment firm Sequoia called the coronavirus "the black swan of 2020" and recommended that firms keep their money close, given the uncertainties of the markets.
But Impossible Foods is well aware of the times. Its press release spent a great deal of time outlining the company's commitment to health and safety during the outbreak — a variation of the emails and shareholder letters many businesses have been sending in the last week. And Chief Financial Officer David Lee assured Reuters that money put into Impossible Foods is always a safe investment.
“Whatever the headlines are, we have the means to withstand short term shocks and realize our long term mission,” Lee told the wire service.
Impossible Foods certainly seems like a safe harbor right now, especially given the company's mission and growth so far. The Impossible Burger first launched as a trendy menu item in a few restaurants in 2016, and is now ubiquitous across the nation. While it's a private company and doesn't publicly report sales figures, Impossible Burgers are in more than 17,000 restaurants, including 7,000-plus Burger Kings nationwide.
Soon after its grocery store debut at Gelson's Markets, Fairway Markets and Wegmans last September, it quickly became many of those stores' #1 selling item. And Disney just signed a deal to bring Impossible Foods to its U.S. resorts and the Disney Cruise Line.
Plant-based meat is continuing to grow at a steady clip. According to data released by SPINS earlier this month, sales increased 18% last year. The category is worth $939 million, the firm found, and sales of refrigerated plant-based meat increased 63% during the period. Plant-based meat is now 2% of the entire meat market.
While there are several other competitors coming onto grocery shelves and restaurant menus, it's a safe bet that Impossible will stay at or near the top. Last August, the company signed an agreement with global retail food supplier OSI Group to expand production and delivery of its products.
The expansion into pork also takes Impossible Foods into lucrative territory. It is the world's most widely consumed meat, representing 40% of total consumption in 2018, according to a Pork Checkoff analysis of USDA data. Sausage made from pork is also being used in Impossible Croissan'wiches, which are currently being trialed at 139 Burger King restaurants nationwide.
Impossible Foods' last big funding round, worth $300 million, closed last May. Put together, this plant-based meat . The company has always been confident in its long runway for growth, and considering the long-term goal to eliminate the need for animal agriculture in 15 years, the path forward is clear.
"There is no horizon where I think our growth takes a break," Lee told Food Dive in an interview last May. "We'll be continuing to expand for some time. We have a long way to go before we're anywhere close to reaching (a saturation) point."