Post 52: Pork without pig? Impossible!

The craze for meat alternatives knows no bounds. Visit any burger bar in a big western city and you will find the likes of Beyond…

Post 52: Pork without pig? Impossible!

The craze for meat alternatives knows no bounds. Visit any burger bar in a big western city and you will find the likes of Beyond, Impossible and Incredible burgers competing for your attention, made from anything other than meat. The likes of soy, lentils, peas and mushroom have become worthy substitutes, with clever food engineering making the product ‘look’ and ‘taste’ like meat.

Next up on the menu then – launched last week – is the Impossible Sausage. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke come early, but the latest product from Impossible Foods, the private California-based private company behind the eponymous burger. This ‘sausage’ matters since pork is currently one of the most widely consumed meats in the world (we eat about 70% more of it than we do beef, per the United Nations) and the most popular in China. The novel vegan replicant version can apparently be grilled, sautéed, steamed or baked – just like the real thing. Impossible says that the sausage will shortly be available at Burger King in the US, with other food service outlets soon to follow.

Lest consumers worry, Impossible says that its new products have been designed to comply with both kosher and halal rules. Furthermore, the product contains no gluten, animal hormones or antibiotics (its salt content – of course – may be another matter). The new sausage is made using ‘heme’ (the same base used for its burgers), a plant-derived molecule that contains iron and resembles the colour of meat.

We have yet to sample the product and await with anticipation. Impossible is certainly pushing food boundaries and remains currently positioned at the epicentre of the alternative meat trend. The plant-based meat market is currently worth ~$20bn, but given current growth rates, could be worth $100bn by 2030 (per JP Morgan). Picking winners is a lot harder. Mass-market conventional sausages and burgers are highly commoditised, and it seems hard to believe that the non-meat alternatives sub-segment will be any different. It’s still very early days. As exciting as new products seem, we expect the quality of the products to evolve markedly going forward.  

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