September 19, 2019 / 3:36 PM / a month ago

Beyond Meat rival Impossible Foods readies for retail debut in California

Sept 19 (Reuters) - Impossible Foods said it would sell its vegan burgers at 27 outlets of Gelson’s Markets in California starting Friday, as it looks to catch up with competitor Beyond Meat Inc which has a headstart in the retail market for plant-based meats.

Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods, which counts celebrities like Serena Williams and Katy Perry as its investors, so far sold meatless patties in some upscale restaurants and fast food chains.

While Beyond Meat, which has been fighting Impossible Foods in the restaurants market, also sold its plant-based meat alternatives at stores including Kroger Co, ShopRite, Sprouts Farmers Market Inc, and has seen growing demand for its pea-based products since.

Impossible Foods fell behind in the retail game as it was waiting for regulator’s approval for use of soy leghemoglobin - its key ingredient in plant-based burger patties.

In July, it got a green signal from the U.S Food and Drug Administration, clearing the way for direct-to-consumer sales at U.S. grocery stores.

Impossible Foods launched its first faux meat patty over three years ago, with a genetically modified yeast that creates the key ingredient, called heme, and makes the patties appear bloody and juicy and taste like meat. Ingredients include wheat, soy and potato proteins.

A 12-ounce package of Impossible Burger, available both fresh and frozen, will cost $8.99 at Gelson’s Markets in San Diego, Los Angeles and other South California cities.

The company said it plans to expand its retail presence throughout the fourth quarter and in early 2020, launching its burger in grocery stores in key regions.

It also said it would launch in additional grocery stores later this month, when the Impossible Burger makes its East Coast debut.

Beyond Meat has attracted investors who bet it will become the dominant player in the nascent market for plant-based meat alternatives, even though the company is yet to turn a profit. Its stock has nearly tripled since it went public in May.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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