A-list celebrities including Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Serena Williams invest in vegan-friendly Impossible Foods

Business Insider

As interest in plant-based diets hots up around the world, so does interest in the companies making these meat-alternatives

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The funding will primarily be used to increase Impossible Foods' ability to keep up with demand.

Impossible Foods has raised another US$300 million (HK$2.4 billion) in funding as the market for vegan meat substitutes heats up. 

On Monday, Impossible Foods announced a US$300 million funding round, which attracted more than a dozen individual investors with star status, including Jay-Z, Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian, Katy Perry, and Jaden Smith.

“The principle use of this US$300 million is to increase our ability to serve this unprecedented demand we’re seeing,” David Lee, Impossible Foods’ chief financial officer, said. 

Impossible Foods menu items, such as its signature Impossible Burger, are sold at roughly 7,000 locations across the US and several restaurants across Hong Kong. According to Lee, demand at individual locations is rapidly ramping up even as the company rolls items out to more locations. In April, Burger King announced plans to add the Impossible Whopper to menus across the US by the end of 2019, putting Impossible Foods in 7,200 additional locations. 

Impossible Foods has struggled to keep up with increased demand, with restaurants selling the Impossible Burger facing shortages in recent months. 

“There is no question that this surge in demand has put pressure on our ability to meet it all. ... We’re doing everything we can and we’re sparing no expense,” Lee said. 

“I think what’s exciting is that the core consumer of the Impossible Burger 2.0 is the heart of the market - it’s that US$1.5 trillion meat-eater market, as over 90 per cent of our consumers are self-avowed carnivores,” Lee said. 

Impossible Foods sets itself apart from competitors with its use of heme, a sometimes controversial iron-rich nutrient that allows the plant-based offerings to imitate the taste and texture of meat.

The company was founded in 2011 by Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown and has since attracted high-profile investors including Bill Gates, Google Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. 

Impossible Foods’ most well-known rival is Beyond Meat, which also attempts to win over meat-eaters with its plant-based burgers and other proteins. 

This story originally appeared on Business Insider. You can read it here.

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