Impossible Foods raises $200 million in fresh funding

FILE PHOTO: A banh mi sandwich made with a plant-based Impossible Pork patty at the Impossible Foods headquarters in Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, California, U.S., December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Richa Naidu

(Reuters) - Plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods said on Thursday it secured $200 million in funding, less than six months after it raised the largest investment ever for a food tech startup, bringing total funds raised since its founding in 2011 to $1.5 billion.

The company, which counts Jay-Z, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and singer Katy Perry among others as its investors, said it would use the money to expand research, develop new products and for internal operations.

Among the first to introduce burgers made from plants that taste and cook like meat, Impossible has been rapidly expanding its retail footprint, selling its products in thousands of grocery and retail U.S. stores, including about 2,000 Walmart Inc stores.

In June, Impossible started selling its burgers online in the United States through its website after beef prices shot up as the COVID-19 pandemic forced several meat plants to close.

“Our growth in retail has certainly been a big part of the story... For us, throughout this current (pandemic) period, we’ve just tried to adjust the way the meat eater is increasingly purchasing the product,” Chief Financial Officer David Lee said in an interview.

Impossible Foods and rival Beyond Meat Inc have struck high-profile deals with several restaurant chains, including Subway and KFC, but have had to find new strategies to stay afloat as many chains were forced to limit operations due to the pandemic.

Impossible’s latest funding round, which follows the $500 million raised in March, was led by hedge fund Coatue and included existing investors Mirae Asset Global Investments and Temasek, the company said.

Data tracker Prime Unicorn Index estimates Impossible’s valuation at about $4.03 billion following the latest Series G round. The most recent price per share was $16.15, higher than its Series F price of $15.41, according to Prime Unicorn.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli