We’ve been watching a recent sci-fi show, The Crossing, about a group of people from the future who wash up on a beach baffled by their journey and this antiquated world in which they find themselves. It’s not a great show by any means, but one particular line uttered by one of the time travellers jumped out: “I heard they get their meat from actual animals here.”
This statement doesn’t even feel that rooted in science fiction anymore, but perhaps that’s our own plant-based echo chamber reverberating off the walls of the food industry. Our feeds, inboxes, newspapers and menus are filled with plant-based meats, milks and eggs, and people are embracing them.
We first wrote about Impossible Foods when they launched in Hong Kong last spring, choosing two high-visibility restaurants to get them off on the right publicity train, Beef & Liberty and Little Bao. It worked, and now they are available at over 150 different restaurants around town. We’ve heard from Beef & Liberty that sales are very good – in fact, at last year's Clockenflap music festival, they sold more of the Impossible Burger than they did their own beef burgers. Sure, it could’ve been the novelty factor, but either way, people were gunning to try it.
Now Impossible Foods have launched what they say is a new-and-improved version of the original, and this one’s also gluten free. We thought the first one tasted pretty good, so bring on 2.0.
We spoke with Nick Halla, Senior VP for International, who joined Impossible Foods as their first-ever employee and has helped to build the company to where it is now.
So, what’s new about the Impossible 2.0?
The new recipe is better in every way: taste, texture, nutrition and versatility.
The Impossible Burger 2.0 has 30% less sodium and 40% less saturated fat than the original recipe and just as much bio-available protein as 80/20 ground beef from cows. It is also kosher and halal certified, contains no animal hormones, antibiotics or cholesterol and has 0mg of gluten. We swapped out wheat protein with soy protein, which gives the product a better and firmer texture, including a meaty chew. In addition, we added sunflower oil and reduced the amount of coconut oil, bringing down the amount of total and saturated fat in the Impossible Burger. We also added cellulose, making the recipe juicier and easier to handle – whether raw or cooked.
The new recipe is also delicious in any ground meat dish, including stews, chilli, sauces, braises, minces, meatballs, meat pies, dumplings, dim sum or any other beefy menu item. It’s easy to cook on a BBQ, charbroiler, flat-top grill, high-speed oven, steamer, wok or sauté pan. Chefs can use the Impossible 2.0 in a variety of recipes, from lasagne to lo mein. It can be steamed, seared or sizzled on slats over an open flame, retaining its texture and juiciness throughout the cooking process.
Where in Hong Kong will it initially be served?
Impossible 2.0 will be rolling out into existing and brand-new venues starting on 1 March 2019. Amongst the first to serve the new recipe will be burger chain Triple O’s, Classified, Castelo Concepts restaurants and Aussie Grill by Outback. More will follow in March.
Is there a particular restaurant in Hong Kong that the first Impossible Burger is selling particularly well?
The Impossible Burger is proving incredibly popular with a wide range of our customers, but if I had to call out a few places where we’ve seen a particularly great response, they would be Beef & Liberty, Cali-Mex, Urban Bakery and Marco Polo Hotels.
How does Hong Kong compare to Impossible’s other markets in terms of selling and embracing it in different restaurants so far?
Hong Kong’s collective of discerning foodies and chefs are renowned and responsible for cultural and food trends all over the world. It’s one of our fastest-growing regions, with 150 venues soon to be serving the Impossible less than a year after launch. We’ve been amazed by how chefs here have created an amazing diversity of Impossible dishes over the past year, everything from stews, sauces, braises, minces, meatballs and meat pies to dumplings and dim sum.
Is there a certain sector of the public or type of cuisine that is proving a bit more resistant to embracing meat alternatives like Impossible that you’re keen to go after?
Impossible is blazing a new trail everywhere we go. There have been meat alternatives for decades, but they are just that – alternatives. Impossible is made from plants and the first and only product that competes head on with meat for meat lovers. Burgers are the first global category, and we’re seeing accelerating adoption in the US and Hong Kong. Impossible is earlier in our penetration into Chinese cuisine, and we are just starting to see adoption into mainstream Chinese dishes such as dim sum, dumplings and more.
We hear you’re launching in Singapore – what restaurants will start serving it there and will it be launched with 1.0 and 2.0?
Starting 7 March, Impossible Foods 2.0 will go on the menu at Park Bench Deli, Potato Head Singapore, Three Buns Quayside, Privé Orchard, Empress and Marina Bay Sands’ Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, CUT by Wolfgang Puck and Adrift by David Myers. The restaurants will serve a wide variety of Impossible selections from Western and Asian gastronomy.
Will Impossible be launching in supermarkets soon?
We decided to first focus on restaurants because of the opportunity to tell the story of our mission and vision and to showcase the full versatility of Impossible. Hong Kong has more restaurants per square foot than any other city in the world and is located in a region that consumes more meat per capita than any other region in the world. It made a lot of sense for us to strategically focus on introducing Impossible through restaurants first, before expanding to other channels.
That being said, we have announced that we will be entering retail in the US in 2019, and our goal is to be mainstream, mass market – and available anywhere you can find meat from animals.
What’s next after the 2.0 release?
The long-term goal of Impossible Foods is to accelerate the switch to a sustainable food system, starting with the Impossible Burger and expanding to a range of delicious products, including pork, chicken, fish and dairy.
Our research team are making new recipes of Impossible every day, and the best version in our research is already better than 2.0. We’ll never be satisfied until every global consumer chooses Impossible. Finding a beef alternative was naturally our first goal given the environmental impact of scaled cattle farming.
However, the platform is designed to do anything animals do for food, but better. Our aim is to produce a full range of meat and dairy products for every region in the world, and we already have many early versions of other meat, fish and dairy products.
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