Impossible Foods — the makers of the vegan “bleeding” Impossible Burger, which looks, cooks, and tastes like meat — is set to take on the dairy industry.
Earlier this month, the vegan company raised $300 million in a star-studded funding round. The round involved investments from a number of celebrities, including rapper Jay-Z, actor Ruby Rose, tennis player Serena Williams, and singer Katy Perry.
Most of the money raised will go toward expanding Impossible Foods’ range of vegan meat products and improving its Impossible Burger 2.0 recipe; it admits the patty is better than the original, but the brand believes it can take it even further taste-wise.
Outside of vegan meat, some of the funding could also go toward creating a range of plant-based, or cultured, dairy products.
Chief financial officer for Impossible Foods David Lee told Food Navigator, “our R&D platform is about fundamental discoveries that go beyond just one product, although we haven’t released a schedule yet of the new products to come.”
He continued, “we have an entire dairy platform with our R&D capabilities, but our focus is on commercializing our products for meat first. We haven’t yet announced the launch of our first dairy products, but stay tuned.”
Food Navigator reports it’s not clear which route the brand will go down when it comes to making cheese or milk. However, a patent was published in April 2015 indicating Impossible Foods would use nuts and seeds for a dairy-free range.
The Booming Dairy-Free Market
Impossible Foods would be joining a booming market with vegan milk and cheese products. As more and more people ditch dairy — for animal welfare, environmental, and health-related reasons — plant-based alternatives are soaring in popularity around the world.
In the U.S, 48 percent of consumers consider vegan milk a staple purchase. In the UK, a recent study by Alpro revealed that half of coffee drinkers regularly opt for dairy-free milk at a cafe. “No longer a niche offering, plant-based has now firmly hit the mainstream,” said Abbie Hickman, Alpro UK’s head of coffee marketing.
Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut are among the major pizza chains that have added vegan cheese to their menus in various countries in recent months, proving that demand is continuously rising. In the UK, Papa John’s sold out of vegan cheese within the first 24 hours of availability.