I really like Impossible as a company. Their mission is a bold and realistic (I hope) and I think they really do care about making a positive influence. They have an impact calculator tool on their website for both the consumers and the sellers of Impossible Burgers see the real positive impact they make by choosing Impossible burgers over beef burgers. For example, choosing one 12 oz pack of Impossible burger meat rather than traditional beef saves green house gas emissions equivalent to 22.1 lbs of carbon, land area worth 1.2 trees, and 0.8 days of personal water use. Recent Harvard studies, along with others, show that a plant based protein is a great way to combat climate change, and I see Impossible being the brand to change our global culture around meat consumption.
I think they could earn all three earths in the future if they created more sustainable packaging and disclosed more information regarding how and where their ingredients are sourced (especially if they are sustainably sourced).
The primary ingredients include water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and natural flavors. Impossible burgers get their meaty flavor and beef-like appearance from genetically engineered heme from fermenting yeast that contains DNA from soy leghemoglobin. Some people are weary of if Impossible burgers are safe to consume because they are genetically engineered, but the FDA has approved soy leghemoglobin for human consumption. The coconut and sunflower oils allow Impossible burgers to cook like meat with fat in it. Other ingredients include binders, methylcellulose and food starch. These ingredients hold the meat together it can be easily formed to fit different recipes (meatballs, kebabs, etc).
I believe it is important to note that the Impossible Burger is currently not organic, but is kosher, halal, gluten free, and of course, plant based. I like that Impossible states on their website that their newer recipe (2.0) is not only tastier and better looking, but it also got a more sustainable “grade” in its life cycle assessment than 1.0.
I am giving “what its made of” one earth because it is a plant based product, despite being very processed. I’m curious to know where they source their soy protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, etc. because I couldn’t readily find any information regarding where or how it was grown/made.
As a plant based product, Impossible Burgers are made with no animal cruelty in Oakland, CA. Of course Impossible Burgers are more processed than beef, but they comparatively have incredibly low environmental impacts. Making Impossible Burger meat uses 96% less land, 87% less water (probably in part because they manufacture in California), 89% fewer green house gas emissions, and 92% less aquatic pollutants compared to traditional beef. This is AMAZING. However, Impossible meat is significantly more expensive than traditional beef. 12oz of Impossible meat goes for about $9, while 16oz of ground beef goes for about $3.
I couldn’t really find any information regarding the actual process of producing the final product. Although, it seems as though the ingredients are pre-processed, then mixed together and are ready to go. It would be nice to have a little more transparency here though.
The brand was created by a professor of biochemistry at Stanford who wanted to help restore biodiversity and mitigate climate change by altering the global food systems. Impossible’s goal is to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035. In order to achieve this bold goal, they must double their impact every year for the next 16 years.
Impossible made a goal to serve 1 million meals in food insecure communities in 2020. I hope they are on track to reach or exceed this goal, especially during the global pandemic when many people are struggling to make ends meet.
One thing I found really interesting about Impossible as a brand is that they don’t necessarily advertise as having a sustainable product. At first I was kind of confused why they wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity, but I later realized that they are trying to reach the conventional American diet consumer. If they were marketing their products as super sustainable, it might actually drive away some customers that will see the product as too alternative. I believe one way they are trying to reach the average American consumer is by having their products in the fast food chains we unfortunately rely on, such as Burger King, Red Robin, Dunkin Donuts, Cheesecake Factory, White Castle, you name it. I like that these relatively unsustainable but familiar companies are serving a sustainable unfamiliar product, as they are normalizing eating plant based alternatives that aren’t bland black bean burgers.
Impossible won the UN Environment Planetary Health Champion of the Earth Award which is the highest environmental honor at the UN. They also joined the UN Global Compact to pledge corporate sustainability. Their factories are working towards being US Green Business Council Zero Waste Certification (where 90% of their waste is diverted from the landfill and their overall waste production is reduced) by the end of 2020. I would be curious to know if Covid-19 has had any negative impacts on reaching this goal in 2020. There is also a Supplier Code of Conduct which outlines that their suppliers comply with laws (relating to labor, environmental issues, etc.), pay adult workers, don’t discriminate, create a safe working environment, have ethical business practices, etc.. It’s pretty vague, but it is more detailed than others I have seen in the past.
I appreciate that Impossible is a relatively transparent company. I would, however, like to see them address ways they can improve the sustainability of their products and operations.