Impossible Foods’ products first appeared in Asian restaurants three years ago, but it is only recently that plant-based meats are available for customers at major grocery stores in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Their mission is to provide meat lovers with the most delicious plant-based meat, which in turn alleviates the negative environmental impact caused by the animal meat industry.
In a recent NewCampus Power Session, Laurent Stevenart, Country Manager for Singapore at Impossible, shared how the sustainable food company was able to successfully launch its products in the Asia-Pacific region.
Here are some highlights (condensed and edited for clarity) from our conversation with Laurent.
LS: We're always trying to hyper-localise the product as much as possible, by staying away from being a so-called ‘100% burger company’, and by finding new ways of incorporating our product in local dishes that resonate best with the local consumers and major influential chefs. This allows local consumers to cook up their favourite local dishes from the comfort of their homes.
Also, to maximise growth in a new market, we aim to continually expand our presence in the foodservice industry, starting with restaurants. As you might know, we're working with Burger King in the US. Back home in Singapore, we're already working with local favourites like Mos Burger, Srisun Express, Springleaf Prata and Swensens.
LS: I don't really like to compare ourselves to our competitors since at this stage we're all wanting to achieve the same thing, which is to reduce the environmental impact of animal meats. Our real competition is the animal meat industry causing damage to the environment.
Our main USP is heme, which makes meat taste like meat. Heme is an iron-containing molecule found in all living things, which we use as a catalyst to release the taste of meat. Impossible Foods is the only plant-based meat company that uses heme and it is why meat lovers like our product so much.
LS: Our number one target audience is the meat-eaters that make up at least 90% of the world’s population, and there are two reasons for this.
First, from a sustainability perspective, vegetarians and vegans are already doing their part in helping the planet because they're not eating animal meat at this stage. We're going after the people that do actually eat meat from factory farms. The second reason is more straightforward and comes from a business perspective—that we would prefer to influence 90% of the population who are meat eaters rather than 10% of vegetarians and vegans.
LS: So the top reason why people would swing towards eating plant-based meat like ours is almost always because of taste. For 9 out of 10 consumers, tasting is believing. Our team of scientists have been trying to understand what makes meat taste like meat, and we’re producing plant-based meat alternatives that give the same satisfaction to consumers.
Another thing we’ve noticed is that the younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of the environmental harms caused by producing animal meat the traditional way and that comes into play as well. Penetrating any market may prove to be a challenge due to regulatory approvals.
Nonetheless, once we enter a market we do realise today that price is probably the biggest barrier for everyday consumers. That's why we're constantly looking to decrease prices—we've since lowered our foodservice price by 30% in the past 12 months. We’ll strive to reduce prices, but it's also a question of scale. As you may know, we can only reasonably reduce prices as we grow, right? The good news is that we are growing. So the more we grow, the more likely prices will decrease, making it easier for consumers to shift their diet towards plant-based meat.
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