The Impossible burger has 1 major flaw to overcome: It's nearly triple the price of normal ground beef

Impossible Foods burger at Fairway Market in Manhattan (9/2019)


At most grocery stores, you'll pay anywhere from $3 to $8 for a pound of ground beef.

More often than not, you're paying under $5/lb. - we're talking about ground beef here, not prime rib.
It's pretty rare to pay the higher end of that spectrum, even here in New York City. I had to call the fanciest butcher shop in Brooklyn, The Meat Hook, which prides itself on being a more labor-intensive whole-animal butchery, to find ground beef that costs $8 a pound.

That's why I was so shocked to find out that Impossible Foods, which aims to replace beef with its own vegetarian beef option, is selling less than a pound of its ground "meat" - 12 ounces - for $9.

Impossible Burger at home

That's a pretty stark comparison to the $3 you could pay for 16 oz. (1 lb.) of ground beef.

For some folks, the high price is worth it. "Fortunately, we have more demand than we can handle at our current price, " Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told me during an Impossible Foods event in New York City on Thursday. Impossible's only offering its veggie beef in a handful of regional supermarket chains to start, before ramping up to national chains and, the company hopes, expanding internationally. It's one of the first steps in Impossible's plan to lower cost, broaden availability, and convince the general public that its version of veggie beef is a better option than ground beef.

Read more: I cooked 4 Impossible Burgers at home, and it felt bizarrely familiar - these are the best and worst parts of the experience

"We're scaling up right now from tiny to big," Brown said. "And it's only when we get to a bigger scale when we realize the advantages of our process. 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."

As Impossible's "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. It's a reasonable plan, but - in the meantime - it makes Impossible's meat replacement hard to suggest for most people.

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