Burger King is introducing a Whopper made with a vegetarian patty from the start-up Impossible Foods. The deal is a big step toward the mainstream for start-ups trying to mimic and replace meat.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Would you like that Whopper with or without beef?
This week, Burger King is introducing a version of its iconic Whopper sandwich filled with a vegetarian patty from the start-up Impossible Foods.
The Impossible Whopper, as it will be known, is the biggest validation — and expansion opportunity — for a young industry that is looking to mimic and replace meat with plant-based alternatives.
Impossible Foods and its competitors in Silicon Valley have already had some mainstream success. The vegetarian burger made by Beyond Meat has been available at over a thousand Carl’s Jr. restaurants since January and the company is now moving toward an initial public offering.
White Castle has sold a slider version of the Impossible burger in its 380 or so stores since late last year.But a national rollout at Burger King’s 7,200 locations would dwarf those previous announcements and more than double the total number of locations where Impossible’s burgers are available.
Burger King’s chief marketing officer, Fernando Machado, said that in the company’s testing so far, customers and even employees had not been able to tell the difference between the old meaty Whopper and the new one.
“People on my team who know the Whopper inside and out, they try it and they struggle to differentiate which one is which,” Mr. Machado said.
Burger King is initially making the Impossible Whopper available at 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area. Mr. Machado said the company had plans to quickly expand it to every branch in the country if everything in St. Louis goes smoothly.
“I have high expectations that it’s going to be big business, not just a niche product,” Mr. Machado said.
The Impossible Whopper creates an interesting alliance between a fast-food chain that promotes its devotion to beef on every Whopper wrapper (“100% Beef With No Fillers”) and a start-up that is committed to getting people to stop eating beef…
Read the whole story here.