WITH battery-free smart watches, the world’s first truly rollable TV and rideable flying drones for police, it was a bit of a surprise to see a burger company take all the plaudits at this year’s CES – the world’s largest consumer tech show.
American company Impossible Foods launched its innovative next-generation Impossible Burger at the famous Vegas show last week (8-12 Jan).
And not only was it the first ever food showcased at CES, but the plant-based meat product – which rivals ground beef from cows for taste, nutrition and versatility – took some of the biggest awards dished out, including the Most Unexpected Product and Best of the Best.
The new recipe marks the food startup’s first major product upgrade since the award-winning plant-based meat made its debut in 2016.
It boasts as much ‘bioavailable iron and protein as a comparable serving of ground beef from cows, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 grams of total fat and 240 calories in a quarter-pounder patty’. In comparison, a conventional ’80/20′ quarter pounder patty from a cow has 80 mg cholesterol, 23 grams of total fat and 290 calories.
“The newest Impossible Burger delivers everything that matters to hard-core meat lovers, including taste, nutrition and versatility,” said Impossible Foods’ CEO and Founder Dr. Patrick O. Brown. “This is the plant-based meat that will eliminate the need for animals in the food chain and make the global food system sustainable.”
The Impossible Burger is available in restaurants throughout the US and more than 100 restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau. The company plans to launch the new recipe in Singapore later this year, with additional markets to come.
Based in Redwood City, California, the company makes meat directly from plants – with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. Scientists genetically engineer and ferment yeast to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin. The heme in the Impossible Burger is identical to the essential heme humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat and while the Impossible Burger delivers all the taste of beef, it uses far fewer resources because it is made from plants, not animals.
While many people may scoff at whether the Impossible Burger can really taste like the real thing, the product has undergone years of research – including frequent, third-party taste tests on the West Coast, Midwest and Mid Atlantic with consumers who self-identify as heavy meat eaters.
Participants each eat a “naked” Impossible Burger (without condiments or buns) and aren’t told whether they’re eating plant- or animal-based meat. They then rate the naked patty purely on “likeability.” In separate tests, consumers gauge like-ability for a similarly plain patty from a cow (made with conventional ’80/20′ ground beef from a major grocery chain). Based on aggregated data from more than 1,500 consumers in these sensory tests, the all-new Impossible Burger’s “likeability” has rivalled that of conventional burgers from cows.
“In addition to taste tests with consumers conducted by independent researchers, Impossible Foods’ own flavour scientists and sensory experts conduct at least 100 internal taste tests per week,” said Impossible Foods’ Chief Science Officer Dr. David Lipman. “We are relentless in our quest to consistently improve the Impossible Burger. The cow can’t compete.”
Later this year, Impossible Foods plans to launch the next-generation Impossible Burger in select US grocery stores. It can be used in any ground meat dish, including stews, chilli, sauces, braises, minces, meatballs, meat pies or any other beefy menu item.
With more and more people opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet, it feels like the Impossible Burger could be the genuine meat-free product to coax more into this way of life as the word spreads and it slowly hits restaurants and stores around the rest of the world.