Impossible Foods confirms plans for UK launch

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/Robyn Beck
Image: Getty/Robyn Beck

Related tags: Impossible Burger, Impossible Foods

The US brand, infamous for its meat-free burger that appears to ‘bleed’ like real meat, has confirmed plans to launch in Britain after applying for regulatory approval.

Impossible confirmed it has submitted an application for approval with the UK Food Standards Agency. In 2019, it filed paperwork to the European Food Safety Authority. Director of Government Relations for Europe Aneke Schwager told FoodNavigator: “Post-Brexit, in early 2021, we submitted an application for approval with the UK Food Standards Agency. We are currently working through the regulatory process in these markets.”

It’s believed the company is attracted to the competitive landscape in the UK post-Brexit. Dana Wagner, chief legal officer at Impossible, told the Times: “The UK has said a lot of very positive things about being open for business, about wanting to be an innovation powerhouse, about being aware of climate change issues and wanting to lead on that.

“We think we’re very consistent with all those agendas and hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later, but that’s up to the regulator.”

Impossible was founded in California in 2011 by Patrick Brown, a biochemistry professor at Stanford University. It launched a meat-free burger in 2016. It also sells a meat-free sausage and chicken-like nuggets in the US.  

At present it sells products in the US, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It has also debuted the Impossible Burger in the UAE, its first market in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, Australia and New Zealand's regulatory bodies approved its key ingredient heme (soy leghemoglobin), which is produced by a genetically engineered yeast, paving the way for commercial launch in these markets.

The company said it is confident of gaining approval in the UK and EU but did not say when it expects to appear on supermarkets.

Schwager said: “We're in several regions worldwide, and we respect the regulatory process. Across every market that has completed its regulatory review, we've never been rejected.”​ 

The news comes as another study conducted by the HSG FoodTech Lab at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland claimed the current market for alternative proteins is US$15bn and is expected to have an annual growth rate of 8.67%, projected at US$22.8bn by the year 2025.

Analysis of investments in alternative protein start ups was provided in cooperation with Dealroom, a global data and analytics platform. Since 2015, there has been €7.4 billion invested in the alternative protein space by venture capitalists, the analysis discovered, up from total investment of only €0.6 in 2015-2017.

Consumers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland were also surveyed regarding their opinions on alternative proteins to investigate the general acceptance of alternative proteins and how much consumers were willing to pay when compared to animal-based protein.

The study looked at several alternative proteins and separated them into five different groups: plant-based, algae, insect, fermented, and lab-grown. The study found that of these plant-based proteins were the most accepted product at 75.3%, and that consumers are also willing to pay 0.83x of the price compared to animal-based proteins, which is the highest of all alternatives.

The study also found that 54% of consumers could see themselves replacing their animal-based protein with alternatives.  

Algae-based and fermented proteins were also highly accepted, with both seeing an over 60% acceptance in the study. Insect-based proteins were the least accepted, with only 30.7% of participants willing to accept them.

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