The vegan chicken battle is on: Impossible Foods is set to launch plant-based nuggets this fall. (Shots fired, Beyond Meat.) And we may or may not already have our dipping sauces ready…
The California-based vegan meat company will showcase its meatless nuggets at the Dot Foods Innovations trade show. It’s taking place from July 21 to July 23 in St. Louis, Missouri. The nuggets will reportedly launch in restaurants first before hitting store shelves.
The plant-based nuggets will feature soy protein and sunflower oil, which help give them a similar taste and texture to that of animal-derived nuggets.
Unlike the brand’s meatless burgers and sausages (currently only available for foodservice), the nuggets will not contain heme. Also known as soy leghemoglobin, short for legume hemoglobin, the company’s flagship ingredient gives Impossible’s products a meaty flavor and juicy texture. But the fact that heme is genetically modified has barred the company from launching its products in the Europe and China mainland markets.
“In prototypes, we did include a small amount of heme and tested without,” Laura Kliman, Impossible’s senior flavor scientist, told Bloomberg. “We found in a nugget format, which is breaded and has some seasoning, it really wasn’t that necessary.”
Impossible Foods Launches Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets
But Impossible Foods isn’t the only plant-based company to enter the burgeoning vegan chicken market. The company’s rival, Beyond Meat, rolled out vegan chicken tenders earlier this month.
The Beyond Chicken Tenders launched in nearly 400 restaurants around the country. They feature a crispy breading and are made from a variety of plant-based ingredients—such as faba beans and peas. They also look, cook, and taste just like their animal-derived counterparts.
“We’re innovating the poultry market with the new Beyond Chicken Tenders—the result of our tireless pursuit for excellence and growth at Beyond Meat,” said Dariush Ajami, Chief Innovation Officer, Beyond Meat.
The vegan chicken market has certainly taken off in recent years. LikeMeat, which is part of LIVEKINDLY Collective’s portfolio of brands, made its official U.S. debut earlier this year, launching vegan chicken at Sprouts Farmers Market.
Other players that are relatively new to the vegan chicken game include Simulate, formerly known as Nuggs, and Daring Foods. The former recently landed an investment from Jay-Z’s investment firm, Marcy Venture Partners.
In addition to the plant-based chicken, Impossible Foods may follow in Beyond Meat’s footsteps again. The company is reportedly set to go public on the stock market within the next year. Its initial public offering is valued at around $10 billion.
Beyond Meat became the first vegan company to IPO in 2019. Its stock skyrocketed by 163 percent on its first day of trading. It was valued at $13 billion only three months after going public.