27. Impossible Foods

Home of the plant-based Whopper

Founder: Pat Brown (CEO)
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: Redwood City, California
$750+ million
Valuation: N/A
Key technologies:
Food and beverage, food processing, nutrition

George Kavallines | CNBC

Impossible Foods makes meat, dairy and fish products from plants. Its flagship product — the Impossible Burger — sizzles, smells and cooks just like beef but is made from plants, not meat. The company, which was started by Pat Brown, a former biochemistry professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has a pretty audacious mission: Eliminate the need for animals in the food system by 2035.

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But first it needs to make sure it has enough of the patties. The company revealed in late April that's its having trouble keeping up with demand from the restaurant chains, smaller restaurants and college campuses that buy its burgers. To overcome that hurdle, Impossible Foods says it's adding a third shift at its Oakland, California, plant and installing a second production line.

Demand is being driven in part by the introduction in January of the Impossible Burger 2.0. This next-generation version of its plant-based burger holds together better than the original — not an insignificant fact when you consider that this newest iteration is now being sold in 59 Burger Kings in the St. Louis area. Rather than a beef patty in the middle, there's an Impossible Burger. The new 2.0 version holds up better when the patties drop from the end of the broiler-conveyers in the restaurants. The Impossible Whopper is so popular that it's being rolled out to all 7,300 Burger Kings nationwide by the end of the year.

The company launched its first product in 2016 at a single restaurant in New York City and is now available at more than 5,000 locations in the U.S., Hong Kong and Macau. The Impossible Burger contains no gluten, animal hormones or antibiotics, and contains no cholesterol (vs. 80 mg for a quarter-pound beef burger).

Investors, including Khosla Ventures, Temasek Holdings and Sailing Capital, have injected $387 million into the Redwood City, California-based company. Last year it won the United Nations' Champion of the Earth distinction for its positive impact on the planet.

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