In 2016, a California-based food company started turning heads all over the world with a wildly radical approach to meat eating. In a move that simultaneously managed to piss off carnivores and veggies alike, the plant obsessed techies at Impossible Foods shook up the status quo with the introduction of an all-new vegetarian burger that was so “meat-like” in its appearance and taste that even experts were struggling to tell the difference. The response from the industry was immediate.
No sooner had the Impossible Burger arrived on menus, then people began to ask about what was going to happen next. The business’ recipe, which they claim “uses 95% less land and 74% less water, and...emits about 87% less greenhouse gas than making a ground beef burger patty from cows,” according to an interview with USA Today, was an immediate commercial hit - despite an outcry from an occasionally baffled public. By July 2018, just two years after its debut, the patty was available at over 3,000 locations worldwide.
Not content with Impossible’s inexorable march towards world domination, company CEO and founder Pat Brown has this week revealed his new plans for what promises to be an exciting 2019 for the business. Speaking at the release of Impossible’s Burger 2.0, Brown gave a fascinating interview to “The Spoon”, providing an invaluable insight into what the future holds. It doesn’t look good for his meaty competitors.
At the event, Brown demonstrated the new and improved Impossible product’s potential for use in everything from tacos to fake steak “tartare”. However, he believes that where he can make the biggest difference over the next 12 months is in trying to tackle “whole cuts of beef,” specifically looking at steak.
In his interview, Brown elaborated, revealing that he believes steak have “huge symbolic value” to the meat eating community. Cracking them could hold the key to replicating all meat. As he said to interviewer Catherine Lamb, “If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak . . . that will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry.”
For anyone interesting in replicating meat, cracking the unique texture and taste of whole cuts has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge facing the sector. Late last year, researchers from Israeli Impossible competitor Aleph Farms announced that they had successfully created their own “slaughter-free” steak, telling the Guardian that, “It’s close and tastes so good”. Clearly progress in this area is going to come thick and fast.
Whether Impossible, or another meat-free pioneer, manages to both successfully craft fake steak and persuade the public that it is a viable product remains to be seen. What is in absolutely no doubt whatsoever is that the meat industry could be about to face some serious competition over the coming years. The global meat market might be worth an estimated $3 trillion, but the changing taste of consumers might mean that real steak could soon be a thing of the past.