The Impossible Burger May Hit UK Shelves Soon, But Competition Is Fierce | Commentary and opinion


Given the regulatory hurdles that have had to be overcome in the UK, the prospects of seeing the Silicon Valley feel that the Impossible Burger for sale on our shores has so far seemed, well… impossible.

But after years of waiting, the cult vegan brand – made famous by its ‘rare’ vegan burger – has announced that it is considering a UK launch.

In a report published by the TimesImpossible’s chief legal officer Dana Wagner said the company filed for approval with the Food Standards Agency earlier this year, which followed a similar (and so far unsuccessful) request to European regulators two years ago.

“The UK has said a lot of very positive things about being open for business, about wanting to be an innovative powerhouse, being aware of climate change issues and wanting to take the lead,” said Wagner.

“We think we are very consistent with all of these programs and I hope it will be as soon as possible, but it depends on the regulator.”

As he suggests, this regulatory aspect has been the main issue behind Impossible’s failure so far to follow its contemporary Beyond Meat across the Atlantic.

Unlike most other so-called ‘fake meat’ brands, the Impossible Burger uses a high-tech compound called soy leghemoglobin, or herbal heme, which gives the Impossible herbal line of products their texture. similar to that of meat and their “bleeding”. appearance.

“Heme is what makes meat taste like meat. It is an essential molecule present in every living plant and animal – most abundantly in animals – and something that we have eaten and craved since the dawn of mankind, ”explains Impossible on its website.

The problem, however, is that this revolutionary ingredient is made via the fermentation of genetically modified yeast. And that GM element is what limited its presence in the United States to foodservice only until its launch in supermarkets in 2019, and slowed down its overseas expansion plans (although it is now available. in China, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates).

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What will be interesting now, of course, is whether Impossible fulfills its wish to finally bring the brand to the UK. Wagner’s comments may be a sign that US companies with GM products are more confident about how to follow Brexit and deviate from EU rules.

But as we reported recently in The Grocer, it might not be easy. The FSA has a form for (rightly) taking its time to approve the sale of what it calls “novel foods”. Just look at British cultured meat startup Ivy Farm Technologies, which tried to convince the regulator in May to be more “nimble.”

The FSA responded by stating that its approach on these issues was to “fully assess the safety of products before they are legally permitted on the UK market”.

It’s a methodical approach that the FSA has already taken with products containing CBD and even raw cow’s milk. And even if Impossible were to get approval, it would enter what has become a very competitive UK herbal market.

Meatless sales rose 28.8% last year to just over half a billion pounds, according to data from The Grocer’s 2020 Top Products survey. Sales have grown further over the past year, driven by big gains – not only from Impossible’s American rival, Beyond Meat, but also from British brands that outperform it and are more affordable, such as Richmond, This, Meatless. Farm and many others.

With most fast food chains also offering their own meatless burgers, and even McDonald’s is jumping into the act with its recently launched McPlant, the UK is now a mature and sophisticated market that will be increasingly difficult to reach. drill the longer it will take time for Unable to be approved for sale.

Will his “bleeding” USP be enough to sway UK buyers? It’s not impossible, but Impossible still has a lot of work to do to make a strong impression in the UK market.

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