Impossible Foods Goes Direct to Consumers

The Lempert Report
July 20, 2020

Is it a good idea?

Over the past few weeks Impossible Foods posted a comment on Twitter with a series of emojis that showed a burger and cardboard box next to an arrow with soon written under it and a door. In the following tweet, the company encouraged its followers to join its mailing list, so they would not miss announcements about home delivery.

Then they announced in early June that in fact they would be selling their plant-based burgers in package prices from $49.99 to $69.99 (with free shipping) directly to consumers through its website.  The website also includes detailed instruction s on how to cook the Impossible Burgers and recipes to try that go well beyond just grilling a burger.

Impossible Foods’ strategy was to sample their product to noteworthy chefs, followed by an introduction into restaurants, then fast food – the Impossible Whopper probably gave the company its greatest consumer publicity. A move into grocery stores followed where during the pandemic saw huge sales increases in sales for both Impossible and its main competitor Beyond Meat.

The increases, measured, according to Nielsen, for the 15-week period ending June 13, is 223%. There are a variety of reasons for the increases, for some shoppers the urge to eat healthier during the pandemic is certainly present, for others it might have been the rising cost of beef and in some cases the lack of beef in stores may have led them to try the alternatives. The other note is that the meat alternative category is just a fraction of the size of fresh beef – $25.8 billion compared to just over one billion for the meat alternatives. The total size of the plant-based foods market in the US is 4.5 billion according to Statista. That number is expected to grow to over $30 billion globally by 2026.

People have embraced direct-to-consumers for many products, from razor blades, to mattresses to cars – but when it comes to foods, as we have seen with meal kits, the over packaging and materials needed to keep foods fresh or frozen is a turn off for many – especially I would suspect – to the Impossible customer who is ordering the product to help save the planet’s sustainability.