Our response to Bloomberg’s subjective, one-sided take that plant-based meat is ‘just another fad’
Last week, Bloomberg Businessweek published a story about Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat that was positioned as a closer look at the plant-based meat industry. An unappealing image above the headline leaves an instantly negative association in the reader’s subconscious before presenting any facts. Across several pages rife with one-sided anecdotes and editorialized framing, the story works hard to create a misperception that plant-based meat, once celebrated for its significant environmental potential, has nowhere to go but down. The reporting is scarce of any data to support its position.
Sales have “plummeted”, it said, referring to a mere 14% drop in refrigerated plant-based meat sales across the category (with no mention that frozen plant-based meat sales are up across the category). Impossible Foods, it claimed, is “discovering that upending animal agriculture is difficult” — even though we’ve been broadcasting that loudly all along(opens in a new tab).
But there are two sides to every story.
Today, we took out a full page ad in the New York Times(opens in a new tab) to draw attention to some of the widespread criticisms people had about the story, with the help of a few clever Redditors.
Human beings have been eating animal meat for millions of years. By comparison, about ten years doesn't seem like a lot of time for global upheaval in food production.
Yet in that time, the global plant-based meat category has expanded to a $7 billion global market. The products have improved dramatically, from the old veggie patties and bean burgers you might remember to products that actually convince people plant-based products can taste as good as animal meat(opens in a new tab). And more recently, we’re starting to see a lot of exciting and compelling new concepts coming into the space.
As for Impossible Foods, our products have only been in grocery stores for the past 2-3 years with a pretty small presence. (Remember, we spent the first five years of business in stealth mode.) Since our commercial debut(opens in a new tab), we haven’t done any sustained marketing or advertising to grow awareness or entice new consumers to try our products. Aside from a little help from our friends (👋 Burger King), our audience has mostly found their way to us on their own.
And yet, Impossible has achieved record sales every year since it first launched on menus, including in 2022. Nearly half of people who try Impossible products purchase them again — a significant and promising retention rate.
It’s not just vegans and vegetarians buying our products, either. More than 90% of individuals purchasing Impossible say they also eat meat — a clear indication that our product is attracting meat eaters and flexitarians.
For a story light on facts and figures, there’s plenty of thoroughly studied(opens in a new tab), demonstrated(opens in a new tab), and published scientific data(opens in a new tab) on the environmental benefits of plant-based meat — none of which received any air time in last week’s piece.
A challenge that’s worth it
We’ve never doubted the fact that achieving our mission will be a long journey full of highs and lows, wins and setbacks, and if we do it right, continuous climate impact.
But we feel good about our position and our plan. We’re going to continue to improve our products’ taste and nutrition, bring down prices as we scale, and invite new consumers to try our products with welcoming, open-minded messaging — something our CEO, Peter McGuinness, told Bloomberg just a few months ago(opens in a new tab).
The reality is that the plant-based meat category is still young and yet to be fully defined. We’re proud of our leadership in the category, even if that means we take the heat sometimes.
And there are hundreds of amazing plant-based meat companies right behind us that will grow, thrive, and continue to advance our mission. We like to think we’re speaking for all of the players in the plant-based space when we say — we’re just getting started.