New plant-based, meat-free brands are targeting Asian food traditions, and Impossible Foods is finding success in taking its product to local restaurants rather than attempting to gain a foothold in retail.

“Retail is an expensive channel when you are a new brand,” said Jordan Sadowsky, director of international expansion at Impossible Foods, speaking at the recent Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit in Singapore.

“You have to pay for shelf space; you have to pay for marketing to build consumer awareness,” he said.

Impossible Foods’ approach in Asia has mirrored its practice since launching in the US in 2016 of partnering with the restaurant trade. (For more, read WARC’s report: Impossible Foods and Quorn on the ‘meat-free’ future of food.)

“We wanted to take our time to expand to 6,000 restaurants in the US, expand to Hong Kong, expand to Singapore, with some of the best chefs in the world to build that credibility factor with consumers that we’re a great food product,” said Sadowsky.

“We’re not mock meat, we’re not a vegan burger, we’re an incredible meat alternative,” he added. “We are meat, quite frankly.”

Chefs the brand has approached in the region seem to agree. “We allow chefs and restaurants to adapt the product and meet the local taste of the consumers,” Sadowsky explained.

“When we went out to Hong Kong, we could see our products used in dumplings,” he said. And soon after launching in Singapore he was able to report that Impossible is now in “about 20 different types of dishes” across 15 restaurants in the city state.

“We are not just a burger company; we never intended to be one,” said Sadowsky. “In the US, the burger is super iconic, so that’s where you see most of the product. But out here, [there’s] tons of diversity.”

Sourced from WARC