It's time for the battle of plant-based food companies: Beyond Meat Inc (NASDAQ: BYND) versus Impossible Foods. Which company's products reign supreme? Which tastes better? Who wins on cost and distribution?
Los-Angeles-based Beyond Meat was founded in 2009 by CEO Ethan Brown and its products started to hit the shelves in 2012. Brown said on several occasions his company doesn't want to force people to stop eating meat, but instead give them a "new and better choice and let them make the decision."
According to Beyond Meat's website, its plant-based burgers are made with 99% less water, 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 46% less energy and occupies 93% less land compared to a beef burger.
The company's products include:
- Beyond Burger, the world's first plant-based burger.
- Beyond Beef, a plant-based ground meat product.
- Beyond Sausage, a plant-based alternative to pork sausage. It comes in original and Hot Italian flavors.
- Beyond Beef Crumbles, a plant-based flavored alternative to ground meat. It comes in Feisty and Beefy flavors.
Using upstate New York as a starting point of reference, these Beyond products are sold at the following grocery stores in the nearby region:
- Beyond Burger and Beyond Beef at Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT).
- Beyond Burger and Beefy Crumbles at Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT).
- Beyond Burger, Beyond Beef, both Sausages at Hannaford.
- Beyond Burger, Beyond Beef, both Sausages and Beefy Crumble at Price Chopper.
Similarly, the following restaurants offer a Beyond product:
- Beyond Burger at Uno Pizzeria & Grill.
- Beyond Burger at Denny's Corp (NASDAQ: DENN).
- Beyond Burger at the restaurant in the Courtyard By Marriott hotel.
What Meat Lovers Have To Say
There is no better judge for a Beyond burger than asking a true carnivore.
The YouTube channel "Sous Vide Everything" was up to the task and pitted a Beyond Burger against a premium meat burger and a Wagyu burger.
In a blind-test experiment, the channel's former resident taste-tester and meat master Ninja said he loved the Beyond burger.
"It's beefy ... It has a really nice flavor in it," he said after tasting the product.
When told he ate a "fake" burger, Ninja said he doesn't care and said he "loves it anyways."
Impossible Foods is the vision of Stanford University Professor Dr. Patrick Brown, who wanted to make the global food system sustainable.
During a sabbatical break in 2009, he wanted to recreate the "entire sensory experience" of meat, dairy and fish using plants. The company's first product, the Impossible Burger, was launched in 2016.
The company's product line consists of:
- Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger that smells, handles, cooks and tastes like it was made out of cow products.
- Impossible Pork, a kosher, halal, gluten-free and plant-based alternative to pork.
- Impossible Sausage, a juicy, savory product designed to be eaten at any time of the day.
Impossible's distribution in the grocery store is limited nationwide and non-existent in northern New York state. The company notes on its website it will be announcing retail partners in the coming months.
Impossible's items can only be found at Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE: QSR) locations nationwide. There are a few local establishments that serve Impossible in northern New York, including Irons and Hobie's Sports Den.
The Kitchn's review of Impossible Burger said prior versions of the burger were "meaty but not beefy" and lack the "umami depth" associated with beef. Even a revamped formula using soy protein instead of wheat gluten failed to convince meat lovers, the publication said.
Sarah Schaefer, the chef-owner of Irving Street Kitchen in Oregon told The Kitchn the new version is "10 times easier to work with" but still a bit short of a premium product.
"It reminds me of eating tenderloin," Schafer said. "It doesn't taste like an aged piece of beef, but it tastes iron-y enough that you know you're eating meat and it's juicy enough that it feels like you're eating meat."
Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat.