The biggest downside of all: the premium price.
At most grocery stores, you’ll pay anywhere from $2.99/lb. to $7.99/lb. for ground beef.
It’s pretty rare to pay on the higher end of that spectrum — I had to call the fanciest butcher shop in Brooklyn, The Meat Hook, which prides itself on more labor intensive whole animal butchery, to find some ground beef that costs $7.99/lb.
But Impossible Foods is selling less than a pound of its ground “meat” for $9. That’s 12 ounces for $9 — a pretty stark comparison to the $3 you could pay for a larger amount of actual ground beef.
I asked Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown about the price during an Impossible Foods event in New York City on Thursday. Here’s what he had to say:
“We’re priced in the range of what I would say is premium ground beef at this point, not the kind of super mass market ground beef. And that’s because although, structurally our economics are vastly better than the animal-based food industry because we use less than a twenty-fifth of the land, a tenth of the water, less than a twelfth of the fertilizer input, and all the things that are driving expensive meat production. What we lack, that they have, is massive scale. We’re scaling up right now from tiny to big, and it’s only when we get to a bigger scale when we realize the advantages of our process. And our goal is to get our prices affordable to everybody in the world, not just even in the US but in the developing world, as fast as we possibly can. But it doesn’t happen instantly, and we can’t sell our products at a loss if we want to stay in business. Fortunately, we have more demand than we can handle at our current price.”
In so many words: As Impossible’s burger meat becomes more popular, its price should correspondingly decrease as its makers feel more of the financial benefits of the company’s more environmentally friendly approach to food creation.
Let’s hope that’s the case, because at $9 for 12 oz., it’s an awfully high price to make a veggie burger.
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