Not everyone is convinced that plant-based burgers are healthy. I mentioned the Beyond burgers the other day and someone started talking about all the chemicals.
If you had to list the chemical makeup of organic Kobe beef, that would be a really long list of really long and complicated words that most of us couldn’t pronounce. All the amino acids, all the different lactic acids, all the components that go into making a piece of muscle stay together in an animal’s body. We don’t have the luxury of just saying “plant-based beef”. We must therefore list our ingredients. But it’s not like there are more ingredients in ours than there are in real muscle if you break down the chemistry.
We have a very large industry in place that knows this is a big deal for us. There was a full page ad in the New York Times that listed all the products in the category and listed all of the knottier ingredients and said, “This is what is in plant-based meat. So it’s being ginned. Competitive interests attract a lot of attention around this issue.
Is the Meat Industry Right For You?
No. Tyson owned part of our business for a while. It’s a $ 1.4 trillion industry, and I think they’re doing pretty well right now. If you look at our sales this year, they’re good, but they’re very low compared to the meat industry. So I think there are pockets that are sort of antagonistic, but not as a whole.
How is Beyond Meat different from Impossible Foods?
It comes down to the choice of ingredients. I believe that everything you need to build a perfectly cut piece of meat from plants is already in nature, and you just have to search hard enough to find it. Impossible is to adopt a different approach. These are genetically modified ingredients. And we’re just not going to do it.
How do you balance all your fast food partnerships with your health concern?
I love these clients and I think it’s about making some extra money. If it’s fried, it’s obviously fried. But if you look at the underlying characteristics of the product – cholesterol levels, saturated fat levels – are you getting any gain? And you are, in many cases. It is progress.
Is this an uncomfortable alliance for you, however?
I cherish these relationships. I think there is a changing of the guard going on in a lot of these companies, and these are people who really want to serve healthier products and who want to bring in the consumer. There is a real desire to continue improving the health profile of their menus. I think it is sincere.