The Impossible Burger 2.0 and the Next Generation of Food Tech

This year’s big ask from alternative meat maker Impossible Foods? Cheat on beef. On Monday, the new Impossible Burger 2.0 made its debut at CES 2019.

Reported Science Technology

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Impossible Foods promises less fat, absolutely no gluten, and the same texture and juiciness as animal meat from their latest burger recipe. The “new new” Impossible Burger wasn’t the only future food innovators imagined this year, but it just might be the brightest.

Over the past two years, the quest for a consumer-ready, plant-based protein took Impossible Foods from limited-time offers at local fast food joints to a national demand for their product. Now, they’re getting ready for full-blown retail sale in grocery stores across the country.

The Impossible Burger 2.0 contained about 20 grams of protein—as much protein per serving as beef.

Producers are increasingly looking to technology to solve the problem of feeding the world’s growing population, forecasted to hit 10 billion by 2050. From lab-grown meat to longer-lasting produce, the list of future food innovators is getting longer. But the food technology space needs two very important things before it can even begin to meet the needs of 10 billion people.

Food tech needs new capital and consumer demand. It has both. According to a report from Research and Markets, the global food tech industry is expected to exceed $250 billion by 2022. Nearly half of consumers from surveys conducted in Belgium and the United States said they would be willing to try the weirdest iteration of food technology yet: lab-grown meat. That’s a pretty good start.

Plant-based foods like the Impossible Burger are approaching mainstream acceptability. Two-thirds of consumers around the world are eating more plant-based foods.

Of the plant-based food industry’s $3.7 billion total sales for 2018, an impressive $670 million came from plant-based meat. Plant-based meat officially makes up 1% of the total meat market.

Making the Impossible possible (again)

The Impossible Burger might seem like a research experiment to some people, but its far from a novel addition to the White Castle menu for Silicon Valley investors. It’s the future of food.

Plant-based meat has its critics. “People around the world love meat,” said Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown in a 2016 interview with the World Economic Forum, “and the demand for meat is skyrocketing.”

All of that that “real” meat worship aside, this plant-based burger is a real source of protein packed with plant-based goodness (and no animal products). With 87% reduction in greenhouses gases, it’s by far the closest thing to a sustainable source of meaty protein that the food tech industry has to offer.

“The way that we make meat today, using animals, is increasingly being recognized as the single biggest threat to the global environment,” said Brown.

For just a minute, let’s imagine a world where everyone ate Impossible Burgers instead of meat burgers. There made for meat eaters, after all. So what would change? Burger King would presumably still sell Whoppers, but the plant-based kind. True, if all burger patties were plant-based, more attention would be paid to things like making sure the condiments are vegan. Would that be such a bad thing?

The world’s attachment to red meat is an epidemic, and the shortsightedness of that attachment will be its downfall. Weighing the differences, there is no benefit to eating red meat over plant-based meat. That is, besides taste.

Can you taste the difference?

Yes, the Impossible Burger tastes good and it’s good for you.

With the release of its latest recipe, Impossible Foods has the opportunity to do what no plant-based food company targeting meat eaters has done before (largely because they’re the first plant-based food company targeting meat eaters).

They can show meat eaters that they’re committed to replacing the beef burger with something that looks, feels, and most importantly, tastes exactly the same.

Food innovators across the industry will look to the reception of the Impossible Burger 2.0’s launch in grocery stores later this year for guidance.

The Impossible Burger contains…

  • NO cholesterol
  • 14 grams of fat
  • 240 calories

That compares to 80 mg of cholesterol, 23 grams of fat, and 290 calories in a 1/4 lb beef burger.

Advancements in food technology like the Impossible Burger 2.0 will make the global food system more efficient. They will be better for you, use less land and less water, produce fewer greenhouse gases and less waste. The food system of the future will be more sustainable, more affordable, cleaner, healthier, and less destructive to the planet–because of technology.

But how readily will consumers choose plant-based meat over beef? Impossible Foods is out to convince meat eaters that while plant-based meat is healthier than “real” meat, the movement away from beef really isn’t about them. It’s about the planet.

The next generation of food tech is better for you. And it’s better for the planet.

The Impossible Burger is better for the planet. Much better. Just one plant-based burger in place of one made from beef saves 75 square feet of land, half a bath tub’s worth of water, and 18 miles of car emissions.

Beef, on the other hand, happens to be one of the most environmentally destructive (and popularly demanded) items in the global food system.

If cows were a country, they would be the third largest global emitter of greenhouse gases, after the U.S. and China. When you put the environmental cost of cow farming in plain English, Impossible Food’s mission to save the planet from meat eaters becomes absolutely essential for the future of all food, not just beef from cows.

Future food innovates will look to the introduction of the Impossible Burger 2.0 for more than sales numbers. They will look to the Impossible Burger as a beacon of environmentalism in an industry practically absent of environmentalists.

Someday, climate mitigation will drive the global food system. Then, food technologists will have to design products based on how much it costs the climate and how much the climate will cost us in years to come. And they will follow the flagship model so boldly laid out for them by Impossible Foods.

For now, the Impossible Burger is still more expensive than retail beef, but it won’t be the most expensive beef in stores either, Brown said.

The new Impossible Burger will be in stores later this year. The sooner it’s in stores and available to the average consumer, the sooner Impossible Foods can make plant-based meat a thing—for good.

Reinventing the kitchen

Here’s the best of the rest from FoodTech Live at CES 2019…

  • Cookpad. Look out for a smart kitchen version of this recipe sharing service with machine-readable recipes soon.
  • Garbi. Smart trash that sorts between trash, recycling, and compost. Plus, it recognizes what you throw away and create a shopping list based on a week’s worth of trash.
  • Genie. This computer promises to cook nutritious meals in under 3 minutes with no cleanup.
  • GoSun. Fuel-free solar ovens. Enough said.
  • Lumen. Breath into this metabolism hacking device for personalized weight loss, fitness, and nutrition information.
  • Mixfit. Nutrition on your countertop. This device makes vitamin drinks designed to help round out your daily nutrition.
  • Nima Sensor. Portable food sensor that can detect gluten or peanuts on-sight. But can it detect animal products? (Not yet 😉)
  • Ovie. This kitchen storage system that keeps track of how fresh your food is.
  • Silo. Meal prepping just got a lot easier. This revolutionary vacuum-sealing container system keeps your food fresher, longer.

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