CEO Peter McGuinness told Food Dive that the launch is about being ‘ubiquitous in availability.’

Impossible Foods secures ‘highly anticipated’ retail deal with Whole Foods

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Dive Brief:

  • Impossible Foods and Whole Foods Markets are partnering to launch the plant-based pioneer’s chicken products, the company announced Tuesday. The retail deal has been “highly anticipated” since Impossible launched on retail shelves in 2019. 
  • The pioneering plant-based food company Impossible has been selling its products via food service channels since 2016. “We were late to retail,” said CEO Peter McGuiness in an interview with Food Dive. Now the company is looking to expand distribution points to “make the food more accessible and more available.”
  • Impossible’s Chicken Nugget and Chicken Patty products will be available at select U.S. Whole Foods locations starting next month.

Dive Insight:

CEO McGuinness told Food Dive the company is making up for lost time in terms of its retail strategy.

“We have 15% awareness, meaning 85% of consumers have not heard of us,” he said. «We want to be ubiquitous in terms of being available, and you have that choice when you’re in grocery stores.”

Impossible Foods started its retail journey in 2019 at Lidl stores throughout the U.S. At the time, its burger product shot to the number one item sold on both the East and West coasts. 

But the company chose to enter food service before that in 2016. 

“It was a deliberate strategy to go into food service fist,” said McGuiness, in the sense that more people will try something new in that environment. 

“Whole Foods is an elevated discerning retailer,” said McGuinness, and he explained that they don’t just take anyone’s products.

Whole Foods has carried Beyond Meat products since 2013, and also sells plant-based meat from companies such as Daring, Abbott’s Butcher and its private label brand 356 by Whole Foods Market. 

“Whole Foods being discerning is a good thing, because you have to earn it,” said McGuinness. 

Impossible decided to first launch its chicken products with the retailer before its burger and beef lines. 

“Chicken is the fastest growing protein in America right now, chicken is a little easier because people don’t have a love affair with a nugget like they do with meat,” said McGuinness. “It’s a great starting point for us and we’ll go from there.»

The retail launch comes on the heels of an Impossible rebrand, where the company changed its packaging and sharpened its claims. 

“The stars are aligning for us to get a healthy distribution out there,” said McGuinness.

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