Move over plant-based meat, lab-grown meat is coming
Consumer exuberance — irrational or otherwise — for plant-based meats may be wearing off some. That’s based on the experience of the largest franchisee of Burger King franchises in the U.S., which has dropped the price of the Impossible Whopper in response to a dip in sales.
Carrols Restaurant Group, which operates about 1,000 Burger Kings, has seen average daily sales of Impossible Whoppers fall from 32 to 28 per store, Bloomberg reports. Burger King, which originally sold the sandwich for $5.59, now includes it in a two for $6 menu in an effort to drive higher volume.
The dip seen at Carrols’ locations is not throwing Burger King off its strategy of driving sales with plant-based alternatives, according to the franchisee’s CEO Daniel Accordino. He said additional ads and promotions on Impossible items were coming and that Burger King was looking to onboard more plant-based alternatives to its menu.
While meatless meats continue to carve out space in the diets of American consumers, government forecasts expect per capita meat consumption to rise along with the popularity of keto and other low-carb eating regimens.
Earlier this week, news broke that Memphis Meats, a company that is growing meat from the cells of livestock in its laboratories, raised $161 million in funding. The company, which has raised over $180 million to date, has received investments from the nation’s largest meat producers, including Cargill and Tyson Foods.
The new funding will enable Memphis Meats to build a production facility as it begins to scale production for a technology that promises to help meet global demand for protein while at the same time significantly reducing carbon emissions and protecting animal welfare.
Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, told NPR that the latest round of funding will enable it to further reduce the high costs associated with growing meat in a lab. Wired reported in 2018 that it cost Memphis Meats $2,400 to produce a pound of meat.
“We have a clear path to bringing a cost-competitive product to market as we scale our production and that’s part of what our latest funding round will help us to unlock,” Mr. Valeti said.
- Burger King Cuts Impossible Whopper Price on Slowing Sales – Bloomberg
- Ready For Meat Grown From Animal Cells? A Startup Plans A Pilot Facility – NPR
- Lab-grown meat producer Memphis Meats raises $161 million in funding led by SoftBank – Reuters
- The Race to Bring Meat Alternatives to Scale – Wired
- The High Cost of Lab-to-Table Meat – Wired
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the future prospects for plant-based vs. lab-grown meats? Should retailers be investing corporate funds in either food technology?