US start-up Impossible Foods eyes next-generation burgers with relish

Next-gen plant-based burger makes splash at Las Vegas tech show

Can a 'high-tech' burger help save the planet?

In one sense, the Impossible Burger is just a patty made from plant protein.

But the founders of California-based Impossible Foods argue the product can have a big impact on the environment, by reducing the large areas of land - some estimates suggest 40 per cent or more of global land area - devoted to livestock.

Impossible Foods, which began in 2011, chose the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to launch its next-generation burger - version 2.0 - which has no gluten, hormones or antibiotics and is kosher- and halal-certified.

With restaurateurs and chefs on hand, the company announced on Monday it has 5,000 restaurants serving its product as it prepares to begin selling in supermarkets.

The Impossible Burger is served at several restaurant chains as well as the fast-food group White Castle, and is eyeing global expansion with restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau.

The company plans to launch the new recipe in Singapore within several months, with additional markets to come.

Chief executive Pat Brown, a Stanford biochemistry professor and former pediatrician, said the decision to appear at CES was because the company is based on technology.

"To most consumers, the face of the company is a food company, but the soul of the company is really R&D (research and development) and technology," Mr Brown said.

The company, which has raised some US$400 million (S$542 million), including from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, was launched to develop a plant-based product that simulates the taste and feel of beef.

It uses wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil, and its "special ingredient" called heme, which has elements of the hemoglobin in animal protein but is developed from soy.

Impossible Foods is among several firms developing plant-based or lab-grown meat substitutes that claim to offer products equal to or better than animal products. - AFP

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