As the US meat supply chain crumbles under pandemic pressure, Impossible and plant-based protein companies are rushing to fill the void

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Plant-based meat alternative brands are seeing unprecedented demand during the pandemic. Irene Jiang / Business Insider
  • Kroger will sell Impossible Foods’ plant-based “beef” grounds at over 1700 stores across the US, Impossible announced on Tuesday.
  • This announcement comes as meat processing plant closures spur fears of a meat shortage, and Kroger and other grocers are starting to limit the amount of meat that shoppers can buy.
  • Since the pandemic began, plant-based meat companies like Impossible have seen an unprecedented spike in consumer demand for their products.
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Impossible Foods is making its plant-based “beef” grounds available at over 1700 Kroger stores across the US, the company announced on Tuesday.

And the timing couldn’t be any more ideal for Impossible.

The plant-based giant’s announcement comes as the US meat supply chain is beginning to see the effects of widespread meat processing facility closures due to coronavirus outbreaks. Panic buyers and meat shortages are making their way to grocery store shelves, forcing some grocers like Kroger and Costco to limit the amount of fresh meat that customers can buy. McDonald’s is tightly reallocating meat resources to its restaurants, while Wendy’s is simply running out of ground beef at some locations.

A Nielsen report shared with Business Insider in April found that demand for fresh meat alternatives had skyrocketed by 272.2% for four weeks ending on April 11 compared to last year. For comparison, demand for meat was up by 58.6% during the same period.

According to an Impossible Foods briefing emailed to Business Insider, demand for its plant-based “beef” product broke a record during March and was expected to do the same in April. And in mid-April, Impossible announced in a press release that it would expand to all Wegmans stores on the Eastern seaboard, Jewel-Osco in the Midwest, and Safeway and Albertson stores in California and Nevada.

Other plant-based meat alternative brands have seen similar sales boosts during the pandemic, albeit on a smaller scale. Gardein’s sales increased by 65% for the period between March 13 and April 19 compared to last year. Tofurky’s sales increased 40% over the last twelve weeks compared to last year, and MorningStar Farms’ March sales increased by 66%.