Food & Beverage

Impossible Foods CEO says it's not the right time for the alt-meat company to go public

Key Points
  • Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods, says it's not the right time to go public.
  • Impossible Foods is working with Burger King to launch the first-ever plant-based Whopper burger.
  • "We are extremely confident that we'll be able to supply all the demand that Burger King has and the growing number of other restaurants," Brown said.
Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown on growth and processed food

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown said Thursday that the alternative meat company does not plan on going public anytime soon.

"Right now, I think it's not the right time for us to go public," Brown told CNBC on "The Exchange."

Impossible makes a plant-based burger that uses soy leghemoglobin — or heme — as a color additive. The company genetically engineers yeast to create heme, the iron-containing molecule that gives meat its taste and aroma.

Plant-based burgers have grown in popularity as more consumers look to reduce the amount of meat in their diets for  health and environmental reasons. The demand has at times created tight supplies of Impossible's products. 

But despite seeing this immense growth, Brown said, "We've been very lucky to have great investors. No shortage of great investors when we need money to support our growth. From a financial standpoint, there is no urgency to go public."

During the interview, Brown addressed the supply issues the company has previously faced.

"As soon as we realized that the demand was outpacing our supply, we scrambled to scale our production at our site in Oakland. We have increased a production at our [Oakland plant] more than three-folds in the past two or three months. We have doubled our staffing there."

The company also recently struck a deal with OSI Group, a large meat manufacturer and supplier for fast-food chains, which should also help grow its production.

"I think we've figured out a solution to the problem and have caught up with the demand. I think our restaurant customers can have confidence that we'll be able to supply them from now on without a break," he said. 

Earlier Thursday, Restaurant Brands International said Burger King would launch nationwide a plant-based Whopper burger from Impossible Foods, starting Aug. 8.

The fast food giant began testing the Impossible Whopper at various locations in St. Louis in April. The company soon extended the plant-based burger to six more markets after seeing growth in traffic.

"We are extremely confident that we'll be able to supply all the demand that Burger King has and the growing number of other restaurants," Brown said.

The company's products also will be heading to the grocery store in September. On Wednesday, Impossible made the announcement after the Food and Drug Administration approved its key color ingredient soy leghemoglobin.

Rival Beyond Meat went public in May, and despite a steep decline in trading on Thursday, the stock is still up more than 600% since its debut. Beyond Meat's stock price has been driven up by interest in the category as well as by more speculative trading. 

Brown said he doesn't see the competition with Beyond Meat as an issue.

"Between Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, we share less than 1% of the U.S. market for ground beef," he said. "The other 99% is still out there and it would be crazy for us to focus on Beyond Meat as the competition. We're focused on the other 99%."