NEW YORK—Impossible Foods, the meatless burger maker, will debut Impossible Pork at a tech conference in Las Vegas this week, and the public can try a sausage version of the product when it arrives at 139 Burger King outlets later this month, CNN reports. For a limited time, select Burger King locations in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico and will serve a croissant breakfast sandwich featuring the soy-based meat.
Burger King's decision to test a plant-based sausage sandwich follows Dunkin's nationwide launch of a breakfast sandwich with Beyond Sausage. In December, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. announced new breakfast items also made with Beyond Sausage.
A pork substitute could be the next big thing because of the industry’s eye on Asia, where African Swine Fever has depleted the pork supply. Both Impossible and its top competitor, Beyond Meat, see huge opportunities for growth in Asia.
"In the next year or two, we're putting a lot of effort into expanding into international markets, particularly in Asia, where pork is the dominant meat product," said Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible.
During a call discussing Beyond Meat's third-quarter earnings, Ethan Brown, CEO, said that "like many, we believe that Asia is a very attractive market for us.” The opportunity "to produce and sell pork dumplings in Asia is significant and not one that's lost on us."
Impossible is showcasing its plant-based pork in a variety of Asian dishes, including dumplings, noodles, dim sum and bao sandwiches. Impossible was interested in Asia before the recent swine flu outbreak, which drove up pork prices and halved China's pig population.
The situation in Asia emphasizes the danger of relying on animal meat for food, said Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement at the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that supports plant-based businesses. "What it's exposed is the inherent vulnerability of a supply chain that's dependent on animals. We're absolutely seeing that this current pork shortage has created a gap that the next generation of plant-based pork is perfectly poised to fill," she said.
Plant-based meat is more expensive for consumers than animal meat, but that could change as companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible scale up and major food companies, such as Kellogg and Nestlé, help make plant-based options more mainstream.
As Americans think about ways to eat less meat, they're increasingly looking to plant-based alternatives. Sales of pork substitutes grew nearly 15% in the United States in the 12 months ending in April 2019, according to the Good Food Institute. During that same period, the demand for jackfruit, which is often used to make vegan pork substitutes, jumped about 20%.
Today, plant-based meat is a small, but growing sector, of the overall meat industry. In May, Barclays predicted that the alternative meat sector could reach about $140 billion in sales over the next decade, capturing 10% of the global meat industry.