(Updated July 7, 2019) Major restaurant chains White Castle and Red Robin are struggling to keep up with the demand for meatless burgers.
Both restaurants have reported being out of Impossible Foods’ vegan burger patty. A White Castle representative told Bloomberg that supply issues should be resolved as of today as it transitions from square-shaped to round Impossible Sliders.
“As we geared up for the change, we had short-term shortages here and there, but not universally,” White Castle said, adding that California-based Impossible Foods is a “great partner and we’re confident they’ll quickly power through the process of ramping up production to meet growing demand.”
The majority of Red Robin restaurants reached out to also reported being out of the Impossible Burger. The fast food chain launched the meatless burger at all 570 restaurants last March. Independent restaurants also noted a lack of availability for the burgers.
Shortages may have to do with the overall volume of restaurants looking to stock the Impossible Burger. Last May, the vegan meat brand released a statement saying it was “facing short-term ramp-up challenges resulting from demand greatly outstripping supply,” acknowledging that many restaurants have come to rely on the additional revenue brought in by the Impossible Burger.
Vegan Meat Takes Off
The popular vegan meat brand recently announced that its signature realistic vegan patty would head to more than 7,000 Burger King locations by the end of the year following a successful trial in St. Louis, Missouri. An Impossible Foods spokesperson told Bloomberg that the shortages have “nothing to do with Burger King.”
Impossible Foods presence in the restaurant world started small, beginning with NYC’s Momofuku Nishi, owned by acclaimed chef and producer of Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious” David Chang, in 2016. The launch sparked lines out the door and Impossible Foods continued to offer the meat-free burger at high-end restaurants in metropolitan areas.
Vegan Impossible meat is now available at multiple venues, including Applebee’s, Cheesecake Factory, Dave & Buster’s, Fatburger, Bareburger, and QDOBA. More major chains may soon serve the plant-based meat. Pizza chain Little Caesars is currently testing vegan Impossible Sausage topped pizzas in Ft. Meyers, Florida; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Yakima, Washington. Wendy’s, Dunkin’, Domino’s, and Subway are among the restaurant chains reportedly in talks with the company.
Impossible Foods has worked quickly to keep up with demand. The company opened a 68,000-square-foot facility in Oakland, California in September 2017 to scale up production. In June 2018, it began hiring for a second shift in order to double production. Last May, the company raised $300 million in an investment round backed by celebrities including Jay-Z, Trevor Noah, “Harold & Kumar” star Kal Penn, Ruby Rose, and Black Eyed Peas frontman wil.i.am.
After launching its “new new” vegan Impossible Burgers, White Castle says it has the sliders back in stock.