While plant-based Impossible Burger fans have been able to feed their cravings at up to 10,000 restaurants nationwide, up till now they haven’t been able to buy the product at their local supermarket for home preparation. That should begin to change in September.
Impossible Foods, the company behind the hugely popular meat alternative, announced this week that it had received a key approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the ingredient or soy leghemoglobin, or heme. This flavor and coloring gives Impossible Burgers the appearance and flavor of real meat. The FDA extended its approval of the ingredient from foodservice operations to direct-to-consumer sale of raw product.
The rule change is effective Sept. 4, though petitioners still have a chance to file objections. The FDA said in a statement, “Should no objections be raised, the direct-to-consumer sale of uncooked, red-colored ground beef analogue products containing soy leghemoglobin will be allowed.”
In addition, Impossible Foods announced this week that it had signed a deal with global food producer OSI Group to expand production. OSI will begin making the Impossible Burger starting next month, adding short-term capacity to Impossible’s own Oakland, Calif., factory.
Since its introduction in 2016, the Impossible Burger has exploded, turning its parent company into a $2 billion enterprise. The original plant-based patties — and the Impossible Burger 2.0, introduced earlier this year — have been a huge hit in restaurant chains from White Castle to Red Robin. The company’s partnership with Burger King became so huge that it led to a supply challenge, one that is expected to be alleviated with the OSI deal.
But Impossible Burgers at retail eluded the company. Its biggest competitor, Beyond Meat, has been selling its Beyond Burger and other products at supermarket chains including Giant, Safeway, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and Kroger brands Harris Teeter and Mariano’s. Although Impossible Burger hasn’t announced any retail partners yet, it’s clear there’s now going to be some serious competition in the plant-based meat alternative department.