Impossible Foods starting direct-to-consumer plant burger sales

(Reuters) - Impossible Foods said on Thursday it will sell plant-based meat burgers in the United States directly to consumers through its own website, as demand for vegan alternatives surge amid rising beef prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move is a part of Impossible Foods’ push to sell directly to consumers and expand its retail footprint this year, following soaring demand from retail and restaurants.

Beef and pork producers including Tyson Foods Inc TSN.N temporarily shut many meat plants earlier this year to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak, as several staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Beef prices shot up as consumers looked to stock up on staples amid shortages, forcing many consumers to switch to a plant-based meat option.

According to market research firm Nielsen, sales of fresh meat alternatives surged 178.5% in the week ended May 23, while those of fresh meat rose 24.4%.

California-based Impossible Foods, the main rival to Beyond Meat Inc BYND.O, already sells its products in over 3,000 grocery stores including Albertsons, Gelson's, H-E-B, Kroger KR.N, Safeway and Wegmans.

Impossible Foods said it will offer free shipping and two-day home delivery on orders placed through its website.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta