Impossible Foods Pulls Plug on McDonald’s Deal

The plant-based meat maker cites production constraints, possibly opening the door for rival Beyond Meat to supply the Golden Arches.
Matthew HellerJanuary 8, 2020
Impossible Foods Pulls Plug on McDonald’s Deal

Impossible Foods won’t be helping McDonald’s with its move into meatless burgers, possibly opening the door for rival Beyond Meat to become the supplier of plant-based patties to the Golden Arches.

By adding the No. 1 burger chain as a customer, Impossible Foods would have jumped well ahead of Beyond Meat since it already supplies No. 2 Burger King with the soy-based Impossible Whopper.

But Impossible CEO Pat Brown told Reuters the company is no longer trying to win a deal with McDonald’s due to production constraints.

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“It would be stupid for us to be vying for them right now … Having more big customers right now doesn’t do us any good until we scale up production,” he said.

McDonald’s has been testing a plant-based burger in Canada, using patties made by Beyond Meat, but has yet to offer a meatless item as a regular feature on its menu at any of its roughly 14,000 U.S. outlets.

“I wish we had vastly more capacity than we do right now because the demand is high,” Brown said.

On the news that Impossible would not be supplying McDonald’s, Beyond Meat’s shares jumped 12.5% to $83.89 in trading Tuesday. Impossible’s “strategic reversal marks a new twist in the battle among imitation-meat makers, which hope to convince more restaurants to offer their patties,” Reuters reported.

Beyond Meat told Reuters that talks with McDonald’s are going “very well” and that its new and upcoming facilities around the world will help it keep up with demand — not just in the U.S., but globally.

“We would have to work with them on timing but, yes, we would be able to meet their demand globally,” Beyond Meat’s chief growth officer, Chuck Muth, said last month.

Impossible Foods declined to say when it might have enough supply or manufacturing capacity to partner with McDonald’s. “When we are ready to do it, we would certainly like them to be a customer,” Brown said. “Right now, if McDonald’s said they wanted us to be in all the restaurants, we’d have to say ‘Sorry, we can’t do it.’”