Impossible Foods has signed deal with Starbucks

Impossible Foods has signed deal with Starbucks

Plant-based food will "completely replace" animal products within 15 years, the founder and CEO of US meat-alternatives group Impossible Foods has forecast.

Speaking to CNBC after Impossible Foods announced a listing with coffee-shop giant Starbucks in the US, Pat Brown set out his projection for the growth of the plant-based sector, which is rapidly expanding in a number of markets.

"From a nutritional standpoint, our products match the protein quality and content of the animal products that they replace," Brown told the business broadcaster. This is why I think people are increasingly aware plant-based products are going to completely replace the animal-based products in the food world within the next 15 years. That's our mission. That transformation is inevitable."

Management consultants A.T. Kearney estimates what it calls "the global meat value chain" is worth around US$1.9trn. In research published last year and widely quoted by executives in plant-based and cell-cultured meat, A.T. Kearney forecast that, by 2040, cell-cultured meat will account for 35% of global meat consumption, with "novel vegan meat replacement" – those made with plant-based inputs – 25% and conventional meat 40%.

On Tuesday, Starbucks launched a breakfast sandwich in the US using Impossible Foods as its supplier. The coffee-shop group has worked with Impossible Foods competitor Beyond Meat in Canada and China. In the US, Beyond Meat supplies breakfast products to Starbucks rival Dunkin'.

"In terms of the number of outlets, it's by far the biggest launch we've had. And of course the opportunity to to partner with an iconic global brand like Starbucks is probably equally important in just raising awareness and interest and trial in consumers," Brown said to CNBC. "Starbucks was one of our, if not the top, target outlet just because of the power of their brand and their ubiquity, and also, in the 18- to 29-year-old age group, more than a third of that population in the US goes to a Starbucks every month."

In March, Impossible Foods, founded in 2011, announced it had raised around US$500m in a new fundraising round. The new investment brings total funding for the Californian business to nearly $1.3bn. May saw the Impossible Burger launched into around 1,700 Kroger stores.