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Main article: Fast food

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Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 14

Glovo is opening a tech hub in Poland after gobbling a local food delivery rival

16:08 | 6 November

Barcelona-based on-demand delivery startup Glovo is beefing up its engineering capacity by opening a second tech hub, its first in Poland — with an initial plan to hire 40 additional engineers and have a total of 50 tech and product experts working predominantly out of its Warsaw office.

Glovo says it expects the Polish engineering hub to make up half of its technology capacity in time. It will have a main focus on developing user-facing features for its marketplace product and for partners operating on the platform, it adds.

It also has plans for further expansion of the facility down the line — and an overarching roadmap for its business of a 300-strong engineering team to support building out its on-demand service offering.

Its pitch is “everything” delivered on-demand, from fast food to groceries or pharmaceuticals, so long as it’s small and light enough to be handled by one of the couriers picking up jobs on its platform.

While there’s little doubt that fast food makes up the bulk of Glovo orders right now the startup has been trying to push into online grocery deliveries, to compete with giants like Amazon — including setting up its own warehouses capable of fulfilling orders within 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. (It calls these ‘dark supermarkets’ SuperGlovo — ‘super’ meaning ‘supermarket’ in Spanish. Though its ‘dark’ model has also attracted attention from Barcelona City Council for lacking a correct permit.)

In August Spanish media reported that Glovo had itself been shopping — picking up Polish food delivery platform, Pizza Portal, for an acquisition price-tag that’s billed as up to €35M (~$39M).

Glovo raised a $169M Series D back in April which included investment from Drake, owner of global pizza franchise Papa John’s — giving it the means and the motive to gobble smaller rivals in the food delivery space.

Poland being one of its existing markets in Europe. (Albeit Pizza Portal offers various types of fast food for delivery, not just pizza.)

In all, Glovo operates in more than 20 countries at this stage, though its densest markets of operation remain its home market of Spain and also Italy.

In Poland it operates in just eight cities — so the Pizza Portal acquisition looks intended to beef up its footprint there, with the latter slated as the largest food-service platform in the market — even as Glovo doubles down on expanding its engineering capacity by tapping up local tech talent.

At the same time, competition for on-demand delivery, and especially food delivery, remains fierce in Europe where a number of players — including the likes of Deliveroo, JustEat and Uber Eats, are battling it out for territory. And, in some instances, consuming each other to carve out a bigger share of lunch in key markets.

Where Glovo doesn’t operate in Europe highlights some of that ongoing food fight, with no offering in Germany or the UK, for instance. Its regional strategy focuses on the South and East. It has also been building up an international business, opening in markets in LatAm and the Middle East and Africa.

Scaling fast is certainly core to Glovo’s playbook, though. It says it launched in a new city every four days on average last year, while the 2015-founded startup now employs over 1,300 people in all.

Glovo founder Oscar Pierre will be joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin in December to chat about growing an on-demand delivery business — you can find out more about Disrupt conference passes here

 


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Kenya’s Twiga Foods eyes West Africa after $30M raise led by Goldman

12:01 | 28 October

Kenya’s Twiga Foods has raised a total of $30 million from lenders and investors led by Goldman Sachs.

The B2B food distribution company financed $6.25 million of the funding in convertible debt and $23.75 million in equity, classified as a Series B round. IFC, TLcom Capital, and Creadev joined Goldman on the VC side.

Twiga will use the funds to set up a distribution center in Nairobi and deepen its conversion to offering supply chain services for both agricultural and FMCG products.

The Nairobi based company will invest in expanding into more cities in Kenya, including Mombasa. Twiga is also targeting Pan-African expansion by third quarter 2020.

“We’re working on French West Africa…we see significant opportunity in those markets,” Twiga CEO Peter Njonjo told TechCrunch. The company will name the new country (or countries) in the following year, he added.Peter Njongo Twiga Foods CEO

Goldman Sachs confirmed to TechCrunch its lead on Twiga’s Series B funding. The U.S. based finance firm has backed several African startups, including e-commerce venture Jumia and South African fintech startup Jumo.

Twiga’s financing comes 11 months after a $10 million raise and announcement it would create additional revenue streams by moving into B2B supply chain for FMCG and other consumer products.

Prior to this, Twiga focused primarily on agricultural goods and connecting the product of farmers more efficiently to marketplaces.

The venture has moved quickly on diversifying its supply-chain product mix. “We’re not just doing fruits and vegetables…I’d say we’re at 50/50 now between FMCG and fresh,” said Njonjo.

“We’ve pivoted a bit as a company…we see our purpose as an organization around what I would call aggregating the informal retail, then using technology, and then using that buying power to essentially provide lower, better cost goods across cities,” he said.

Co-founded in Nairobi in 2014 by Njonjo and Grant Brooke, Twiga Foods serves around 3,000 outlets a day with produce through a network of 17,000 farmers and 8,000 vendors. Parties can coordinate goods exchanges via mobile app using M-Pesa mobile money for payment.

The company has reduced typical post-harvest losses in Kenya from 30% to 4% for produce brought to market on the Twiga network, according to Njonjo.

Transferring these gains from improved supply-chain to a wider variety of food products has upside for economies and and consumers, he believes.

“[If you] get farmers now producing at large scale and supplying into you, and manufacturers that don’t need to invest in distribution systems, it has huge benefit,” said Njonjo.

“Think about in some of these economies, if you’re spending 55% of disposable income on food, if that number were to go down to 40% — because of…gaining efficiency — what you’ve done is to release 15% for consumers to spend for other things.”

As TechCrunch reported in November, Twiga Foods’ consistent volume and revenue flow from agricultural goods provides a foundation to add other product categories to its B2B network.

“If we can build a business around fresh fruit and vegetables…It’s now much easier to lay things over that would have been very expensive to get to end retailers,” Twiga co-founder Grant Brooke said.

This could put the startup in a position to enter or supply B2C e-commerce with more favorable margins than existing players, i.e., online retailer Jumia — with high fulfillment expenses.

On that prospect, “It’s not something we”re thinking about from a strategic standpoint,” said CEO Njonjo.

But Twiga has factored for its advantages in the B2C e-commerce space. “Let me put it this way, if you’re able to serve Nairobi’s 180,000 retailers, it means that the furthest customer would be less than 2 kilometers away from any shop. That’s the power of building a B2C business on top of a B2B platform. So definitely, the potential is there,” said Njonjo.

That leaves some room for conjecture that Twiga Foods could pivot toward supplying or entering online retail in Africa.

For now the company will focus on performance metrics around its current model.

“We’re not sharing data around revenue and profitability. But…over the next 12 months as we scale, our unit economics is front and center to ensure we’re growing our margins faster than our costs,” said Njonjo.

 

 


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Untitled

23:05 | 26 August

Kentucky Fried Chicken is going beyond chicken with its latest partnership.

As other chicken chains vie for chicken sandwich dominance, KFC is doing its bit for the planet and taking its first fledgling steps to move beyond the chicken coop with a plant-based chicken nugget in partnership with Beyond Meat.

The first nuggets are going on sale at a single restaurant on August 27th in Smyrna, Ga.

KFC has already experimented with vegetarian offerings outside of the U.S. In the U.K. the company has an “Impostor Burger” on the menu that’s made from mushrooms and was developed with the English vcompany, Quorn.

Beyond Fried Chicken’s one-day-only offer from KFC is significantly different from the month-long citywide rollout that Burger King did for the Impossible Whopper (its Impossible Foods menu item) earlier this year. But it comes as most fast food chains are trying to come to grips with rising consumer demand for vegetarian alternatives to traditional menu items.

Beyond Meat’s foray into fast casual chicken comes after several big wins for the company with Dunkin Donuts, Del Taco, Tim Hortons, Carl’s Jr. and TGIFridays.

“KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with. To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken, in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey. My only regret is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment,” said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO, Beyond Meat, in a statement.

Chicken is one of the next battlegrounds for the alternative protein purveyors, although they’re not just looking at plant-based chicken substitutes. Companies like Memphis Meats (and, reportedly, Just) are working on lab-cultured meat cultivated from animal cells.

News of KFC and Beyond Meat’s challenge to conventional chicken chains sent Beyond Meat’s stock price up more nearly 6%, or $8.28 per share, to close at $155.13.

 


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Join The New Stack for Pancake & Podcast with Q&A at TC Sessions: Enterprise

23:00 | 19 August

Popular enterprise news and research site, The New Stack, is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 for a special Pancake & Podcast session with live Q&A  featuring, you guessed it, delicious pancakes and awesome panelists!

Here’s the “short stack” of what’s going to happen:

  • Pancake buffet opens at 7:45 am on Thursday, Sept. 5 at TC Sessions: Enterprise
  • At 8:15 am the panel discussion/podcast kicks off, the topic, “The People and Technology You Need to Build a Modern Enterprise
  • After the discussion, the moderators will host a live audience Q&A session with the panelists
  • Once the Q&A is done, attendees will get the chance to win some amazing raffle prizes

You can only take part in this fun pancake-breakfast podcast if you register for a ticket to  TC Sessions: Enterprise. Use the code TNS30 to get 30% off the conference registration price!

Here’s the longer-versions of what’s going to happen:

At 8:15 a.m., The New Stack founder and Publisher Alex Williams takes the stage as the moderator and host of the panel discussion. Our topic for TC Sessions: Enterprise is The People and Technology You Need to Build a Modern Enterprise. We’ll start with intros of our panelists and then dive into the topic with Sid Sijbrandij, founder and CEO at GitLab, and Frederic Lardinois, enterprise reporter and editor at TechCrunch, as our initial panelists. More panelists to come!

Then it’s time for questions. Questions we could see getting asked (hint, hint): Who’s on your team? What makes a great technical team for the enterprise startup? What are the observations a journalist has about how the enterprise is changing? What about when the time comes for AI? Who will I need on my team?

And just before 9 a.m., we’ll pick a ticket out of the hat and announce our raffle winner. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

On a side note, the pancake breakfast discussion will be published as a podcast on The New Stack Analysts

But there’s only one way to get a prize and network with fellow attendees, and that’s by registering for TC Sessions: Enterprise and joining us for a short stack with The New Stack. Tickets are now $349, but you can save 30% with code TNS30.

 


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For the next month, the Impossible Whopper will be available at Burger Kings across the country

13:00 | 1 August

Starting in one week, the Impossible Foods plant-based Impossible Burger will be available at Burger King restaurants across the country.

The world’s second largest fast food chain is rolling out the Impossible Whopper nationwide at all of its 7,200 U.S. locations for the next month as it tests the potential demand for the meaty-tasting meatless patty.

Burger King first launched the Impossible Whopper at 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area on April Fool’s day. But the joke seems to be on the restaurant chain for not trying to make the nationwide rollout happen sooner.

Foot traffic to restaurants that sold the Impossible Whopper soared a whopping 18.5%, according to the market analysis firm, inMarket Insights. Over the same period, foot traffic to the company’s restaurants elsewhere in the U.S. declined 1.75%, according to the study, which analyzed location data of 50 million Comscore-verified users.

It’s been a busy week for Impossible Foods, which announced only yesterday that it had inked a partnership with a manufacturer to boost supplies of its heavily in-demand patties. The company also cleared the final regulatory hurdle it faced to bring its Impossible Burgers to grocery stores around the country. So just as Burger King wraps up its trial run, customers across the country will be able to find the patties on store shelves.

Burger King wasn’t the first chain to see the value in adding Impossible Burgers to the menu. Roughly a year ago, White Castle became the first major fast food chain to offer an Impossible Slider on its menu. The burgers can also be found at more upscale fast-casual restaurant chains like Bareburger, Applebee’s, Red Robin, and Five Napkin Burger joints.

While the other chains may have been first, the Burger King rollout is by far the largest.

“From the launch of our test in St. Louis, we knew that our guests really enjoyed the taste of the flame-grilled Impossible Whopper,” said Chris Finazzo, President, North America, Burger King Corporation, in a statement. “We’re now making the Impossible Whopper available for our guests across the country at an unbeatable price for a limited time only so visit one of our restaurants before they sell out.”

One day after the in-store launch, Burger King and DoorDash will offer an “Impossible Taste Test” where customers can order an Impossible Whopper and the original sandwich for $7. For orders of $10 or more, DoorDash will waive the delivery fee.

Suggested retail price for the Impossible Whopper is $5.59, which also puts the burger at a lower price point than many of the other fast food chains slinging Impossible products.

While the Impossible Whopper may be made entirely of plants, it’s not much healthier than eating a regular burger. The patties, made of water, soy protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil and leghemoglobin (that’s the company’s secret ingredient) aren’t designed to be healthier option than a burger — they’re just designed to be a more environmentally conscious replacement for beef.

Impossible Foods’ recent wins come as its chief rival, Beyond Meat, is raking in piles of cash as a publicly traded company and building up a sizable war chest to conduct research and development for new products.

Impossible Foods has raised nearly $700 million to date as a private company. Its backers include  Khosla Ventures,  Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors, Temasek, Sailing Capital and Open Philanthropy Project.

 


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In what is apparently not an April Fool’s joke, Impossible Foods and Burger King are launching an Impossible Whopper

17:35 | 1 April

The meat substitute manufacturer Impossible Foods and fast food giant Burger King are launching an Impossible Whopper.

According to a report in The New York Times, Burger King is launching the Impossible Whopper in stores in the St. Louis area with plans for a broader rollout later — and not as part of some elaborate April Fool’s day prank.

Burger King isn’t the first fast food chain to bring an Impossible burger to market. That’d be White Castle, which is selling Impossible sliders at stores in the Northeast.

But Burger King would certainly be the biggest slinger of ground beef to go with a meatless patty maker.

Impossible’s largest competition in the meat-substitute market, the publicly traded purveyor of purely beef free patties, Beyond Meat, has a similar deal with Carl’s Jr. for its own version of a beef-less burger.

The Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods has been on a roll. They introduced a new version of their burger to much fanfare at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, and have been locking in deals with higher-end fast casual restaurants and now large international fast food chains.

In the eight years since the company raised its first $7 million investment from Khosla Ventures, Impossible Foods has managed to amass over $389 million in financing — including a convertible note last year from the Singaporean global investment powerhouse Temasek (which is backed by the Singaporean government) and the Chinese investment fund Sailing Capital (a state-owned investment fund backed by the Communist Party-owned Chinese financial services firm, Shanghai International Group).

It remains to be seen if this is a harbinger of things to come for Burger King and whether the fast food giant will embrace other alternative meat companies like the providers of fake chicken or cellular based meat substitutes like Memphis Meats.

 

 


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The next big restaurant chain may not own any kitchens

16:30 | 7 October

If investors at some of the biggest technology companies are right, the next big restaurant chain could have no kitchens of its own.

These venture capitalists think the same forces that have transformed transportation, media, retail and logistics will also work their way through prepared food businesses.

Investors are pouring millions into the creation of a network of shared kitchens, storage facilities, and pickup counters that established chains and new food entrepreneurs can access to cut down on overhead and quickly spin up new concepts in fast food and casual dining.

Powering all of this is a food delivery market that could grow from $35 billion to a $365 billion industry by 2030, according to a report from UBS’s research group, the “Evidence Lab”.

“We’ve had conversations with the biggest and fastest growing restaurant brands in the country and even some of the casual brands,” said Jim Collins, a serial entrepreneur, restauranteur, and the chief executive of the food-service startup, Kitchen United. “In every board room for every major restaurant brand in the country… the number one conversation surrounds the topic of how are we going to address [off-premise diners].”

Collins’ company just raised $10 million in a funding round led by GV, the investment arm of Google parent company, Alphabet. But Alphabet’s investment team is far from the only group investing in the restaurant infrastructure as a service business.

Perhaps the best capitalized company focusing on distributed kitchens is CloudKitchens, one of two subsidiaries owned by the holding company City Storage Solutions.

Cloud Kitchens and its sister company Cloud Retail are the two arms of the new venture from Uber co-founder and former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, which was formed with a $150 million investment.

As we reported at the time, Travis announced that he would be starting a new fund with the riches he made from Uber shares sold in its most recent major secondary round. Kalanick said his 10100, or “ten one hundred”, fund would be geared toward “large-scale job creation,” with investments in real estate, e-commerce, and “emerging innovation in India and China.”

If anyone is aware of the massive market potential for leveraging on-demand services, it’s Kalanick. Especially since he was one of the architects of the infrastructure that has made it possible.

Other deep pocketed companies have also stepped into the fray. Late last year Acre Venture Partners, the investment arm formed by The Campbell Soup Co., participated in a $13 million investment for Pilotworks, another distributed kitchen operator based in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Kitchen United has been busy putting together a deep bench of executive talent culled from some of the largest and most successful American fast food restaurant chains.

Former Taco Bell Chief Development Officer, Meredith Sandland, joined the company earlier this year as its chief operating officer, while former McDonald’s executive Atul Sood, who oversaw the burger giant’s relationship with online delivery services, has come aboard as Kitchen United’s Chief Business Officer.

The millions of dollars spicing up this new business model investors are serving up could be considered the second iteration of a food startup wave.

An earlier generation of prepared food startups crashed and burned while trying to spin up just this type of vision with investments in their own infrastructure. New York celebrity chef David Chang, the owner and creator of the city’s famous Momofuku restaurants (and Milk Bar, and Ma Peche), was an investor in Maple, a new delivery-only food startup that raised $25 million before it was shut down and its technology was absorbed into the European, delivery service, Deliveroo.

Ando, which Chang founded, was another attempt at creating a business with a single storefront for takeout and a massive reliance on delivery services to do the heavy lifting of entering new neighborhoods and markets. That company wound up getting acquired by UberEats after raising $7 million in venture funding.

Those losses are slight compared to the woes of investors in companies like Munchery, ($125.4 million) Sprig, ($56.7 million) and SpoonRocket ($13 million). Sprig and Spoonrocket are now defunct, and Munchery had to pull back from markets in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle as it fights for survival. The company also reportedly was looking at recapitalizing earlier in the year at a greatly reduced valuation.

What gives companies like Kitchen United, Pilotworks and Cloud Kitchens hope is that they’re not required to actually create the next big successful concept in fast food or casual dining. They just have to enable it.

Kitchen United just opened a 12,000 square foot facility in Pasadena for just that purpose — and has plans to open more locations in West Los Angeles; Jersey City, N.J.; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Seattle and Denver. Its competitor, Pilotworks, already has operations in Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, and Providence, R.I.

While the two companies have similar visions, they’re currently pursuing different initial customers. Pilotworks has pitched itself as a recipe for success for new food entrepreneurs. Kitchen United, by comparison is giving successful local, regional, and national brands a way to expand their footprint without investing in real estate.

“One of the directions that the company was thinking of going was toward the restaurant industry and the second was in the food service entrepreneurial sector,” said Collins. “Would it be a company that served restaurants with their expansions? Now, we’re in deep discussions with all kinds of restaurants.”

Smaller national fast food chains like Chick-Fil-A or Shake Shack, or fast casual chains like Dennys and Shoney’s could be customers, said Collins. So could local companies that are trying to expand their regional footprint. Los Angeles’ famous Canter’s Deli is a Kitchen United customer (and an early adopter of a number of new restaurant innovations) and so is The Lost Cuban Kitchen, an Iowa-based Cuban restaurant that’s expanding to Los Angeles.

Kitchen United is looking to create kitchen centers that can house between 10-20 restaurants in converted warehouses, big box retail and light industrial locations.

Using demographic data and “demand mapping” for specific cuisines, Kitchen United said that it can provide optimal locations and site the right restaurant to meet consumer demand. The company is also pitching labor management, menu management and delivery tools to help streamline the process of getting a new location up and running.

“In all of the facilities, all of the restaurants have their own four-walled space,” says Collins. “There’s shared infrastructure outside of that.”

Some of that infrastructure is taking food deliveries and an ability to serve as a central hub for local supplier, according to Collins. “One of the things that we’re going to be launching relatively soon here in Pasadena, is actually in-service days where local supplier and purveyors can come in and meet with seven restaurants at once.”

It’s also possible that restaurants in the Kitchen United spaces could take advantage of restaurant technologies being developed by one of the startup’s sister companies through Cali Group, a holding company for a number of different e-sports, retail, and food technology startups.

The Pasadena-based kitchen company was founded by Harry Tsao, an investor in food technology (and a part owner of the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Football Club) through his fund Avista Investments; and John Miller, a serial entrepreneur who founded the Cali Group.

In fact, Kitchen United operates as a Cali Group portfolio company alongside Miso Robotics, the developer of the burger flipping robot, Flippy; Caliburger, an In-n-Out clone first developed by Miller in Shanghai and brought back to the U.S.; and FunWall, a display technology for online gaming in retail settings.

“Kitchen United’s data-driven approach to flexible kitchen spaces unlocks critical value for national, regional, and local restaurant chains looking to expand into new markets,” said Adam Ghobarah, general partner at GV, and a new director on the Kitchen United board. “The founding team’s experience in scaling — in addition to diverse exposure to national chains, regional brands, regional franchises, and small upstart eateries — puts Kitchen United in a strong position to accelerate food innovation.”

GV’s Ghobarah actually sees the investment of a piece with other bets that Alphabet’s venture capital arm has made around the food industry.

The firm is a backer of the fully automated hamburger preparation company, Creator, which has raised roughly $28 million to develop its hamburger making robot (if Securities and Exchange Commission filings can be believed). And it has backed the containerized farming startup, Bowery Farming, with a $20 million investment.

Ghobarah sees an entirely new food distribution ecosystem built up around facilities where Bowery’s farms are colocated with Kitchen United’s restaurants to reduce logistical hurdles and create new hubs.

“As urban farming like Bowery scales up… that becomes more and more realistic,” Ghobarah said. “The other thing that really stands out when you have flexible locations … all of the thousands of people who want to own a restaurant now have access. It’s not really all regional chains and national chains… With a satellite location like this… [a restaurant]… can break even at one third of the order volume.”

 

 


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Impossible Foods is going to every White Castle

19:39 | 12 September

Five months after launching a pilot program with the iconic White Castle fast food chain, Impossible Foods is taking its meatless burger substitute to every one of the company’s restaurants.

With the rollout, White Castle becomes the largest fast food chain to include the Impossible Burger on its menu and the largest customer for the purveyor of beef-like meat-substitutes.

At a low low cost of $1.99 the Impossible Slider does achieve the near impossible of bringing a processed vegan food option to consumers at a price point that everyone can afford.

The company first unveiled the Impossible Slider at 140 locations in New York, Chicago and New Jersey, and the burger is now available in 377 restaurants across 13 states.

“White Castle is teaching us how to popularize plant-based meat and become a mainstream, mass market menu item and cultural icon,” said Impossible Foods’ Founder and CEO Dr. Patrick O. Brown, in a statement.

From its first appearance in David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi restaurant in 2016, the Impossible Burger is now available in 3,000 locations including restaurants, corporate cafeterias, universities and foodservice locations in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Macau according to a company statement.

It has been seven years since the company raised its first $7 million investment from Khosla Ventures . Since that time Impossible Foods has managed to amass another $443 million in financing — including a convertible note from the Singaporean global investment powerhouse Temasek (which is backed by the Singaporean government) and the Chinese investment fund Sailing Capital (a state-owned investment fund backed by the Communist Party-owned Chinese financial services firm, Shanghai International Group).

The company built its first large-scale manufacturing plant in Oakland, Calif. last year and expects to add a second shift to the factory to double production.

As we wrote earlier the heart of Impossible Burger’s technology is the heme molecule and the ability to make its vegetable matter appear as bloody as a medium rare burger.

Heme is present in most living things and, according to Impossible Foods, it’s the molecule that gives meat its flavor. The company says that it’s the presence of the heme molecule in muscle that makes meat taste like meat. Impossible Foods engineers and ferments yeast to produce that heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin.

“It’s the iron-containing molecule that carries oxygen in the blood… what makes meat red or pink… It’s essential for every living cell on earth,” says Brown. “The thing that we discovered was that pretty much the entire flavor experience of meat that distinguishes it from all other foods is due to heme. Heme transforms fatty acids into the bloody flavored odorant molecules, and when you cook meat, the protein that holds the meat at a certain temperature unfolds and lets loose.”

Brown says Impossible Foods can make fish flavors, chicken flavors and pork flavors, but is going to stick to ground beef for the foreseeable future.

The next trick for the company is to manipulate the flavor profile of its meat substitute so its burgers can win in blind taste tests against any other combination of meat patty.

“The company’s mission is to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035,” says Brown. “The only way to do it is to do a better job than any animal at producing the most nutritious, delicious, affordable and versatile foods. And it will be a very interesting proof of concept landmark when we have a burger that is — for flavor and deliciousness — the best burger on earth… that’s going to send a very important signal to the world.”

 


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Bolt Threads joins Modern Meadow in the quest to bring lab-grown leather to market

18:07 | 16 April

There’s a new world of lab-grown replacements coming for everything from the meat department in your grocery store to a department store near you.

Lab-made leather replacements will soon join vegetable-based meat replacements on store shelves thanks to startups like Bolt Threads, which today announced that it would join companies like Modern Meadow in the quest to bring vegetable-based replacements for animal hides to market.

Earlier this year, the Silicon Valley-based Bolt Threads raised a $123 million financing to expand its business beyond the manufacture of spider silk which had brought the company acclaim — and an initial slate of products.

The announcement today of its new product, Mylo, is the first step on that path.

Working with established partner, Stella McCartney, and using technology licensed from the biomaterials company Ecovative Design, Bolt is bringing Mylo’s mushroom-based leather replacement to the world in a debut of one of McCartney’s Falabella bag designs made from the mushroom material.

The first bag will be available at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Fashioned from Nature exhibit, open to the public on April 21st in London.

In an interview with Fast Company last year, McCartney discussed her commitment to sustainability. “I don’t think you should compromise anything for sustainability,” McCartney told the magazine. “The ultimate achievement for me is when someone comes into one of my stores and buys a Falabella bag thinking it’s real leather.”

While Bolt Threads is licensing its technology from Ecovative Design, Modern Meadow is choosing to develop its own intellectual property for growing a replacement leather.

Taking a different path to its California-based competitor, Brooklyn’s Modern Meadow model is going for a mass market while Bolt Threads is more bespoke.

The East Coast company partnered with the European chemical giant Evonik — and has raised over $40 million dollars from billionaire backers like Peter Thiel’s Breakout Ventures and Horizons Ventures (financed by Li Ka Shing — one of China’s wealthiest men) — along with the Singaporean investment giant, Temasek.

Both companies are examples of how animal husbandry is being replaced by technology in the search for a more sustainable way to feed and clothe the world’s growing population. It’s a population that’s demanding quality goods without sacrificing sustainable industrial practices — all things that are made possible by new material — and data — science along with novel manufacturing capabilities that show promise in taking things from the laboratory to the heart of the animal industries they’re looking to replace.

This is a pattern that’s not just happening in fashion, but being replicated in food science as well.

How quickly the change will come — and how viable these alternatives will be — depend on them scaling to meet a broad consumer demand. One purse in a museum show isn’t enough. Once there are hundreds of handbags on Target shelves — that’s when the revolution won’t need to be televised, because it will already have been commercialized.

 


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Impossible Foods goes to White Castle

20:20 | 12 April

Impossible Foods is taking another bite out of the meat supply chain, with the announcement that it’s meatless burger substitute is coming to America’s first fast food burger chain — White Castle.

That’s right, now stoned vegan hippies can join stoned slackers in their quest for cheap, delicious burger-y goodness.

The “Impossible Slider” which is made from Impossible Foods’ vegetable-based ground beef substitute, will now be available for $1.99, or as part for a combo meal.

It’s hard to understate the importance of this as Impossible Foods now makes the jump from higher-end, fast-casual restaurants to a truly mass consumer, fast food chain.

If the company’s mission to be a viable competitor to ground beef — and ultimately replace it — Impossible Foods was going to have to make the jump from Umami Burger to “Impossible Slider” at some point.

As we wrote last month, the company has been beefing up its balance sheet to make just such a move — raising nearly $300 million in funding to take its burgers to Asia, and across America.

As part of the deal, the Impossible Slider will be available at 140 locations in the New York-New Jersey corridor and around Chicago and its suburbs.

“White Castle’s model has been often imitated but never duplicated — an impressive feat in the
hyper-competitive fast-food sector,” said Impossible Foods’ founder and chief executive Patrick Brown in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with White Castle, and together learning how to popularize plant-based meat with mainstream burger lovers.”

 


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