Impossible Foods: Fighting Climate Change with Plant-Based Meat

Can Impossible Foods change the way meat is produced on a large enough scale to make a serious inroad in the battle against climate change?

Rajeev Kohli  | Spring 2020
Print this page

Patrick Brown, an accomplished biochemist with a passion to fight climate change by making meat from plants, launched Impossible Foods in July 2011. Impossible Foods introduced its first product, the plant-based Impossible Burger, in 2016. Three years later, the burger was available in 17,000 restaurants in the United States and in selected food stores on the East and West coasts of the country. Brown planned to extend the same process to other forms of meat, and beyond. By the end of 2019, Impossible Foods had raised $750 million in funding and had an estimated value as high as $5 billion. However CEO and Founder Patrick Brown was focused on a more far-reaching goal: to eliminate animal agriculture by 2035. His mission was to change how meat was produced and consumed in order to make a serious contribution to curbing climate change while helping to meet the increasing worldwide demand for all food. Brown calculated that to achieve this goal, Impossible Foods would need to double its 2019 sales and production numbers each year for roughly 15 years. This case presents background on agriculture and climate change and the case both for and against plant-based meat—and asks students to consider whether Impossible Foods can meet the production demands, competitive threats, and sales and marketing challenges in order to be a serious player in the fight to battle climate change.

Case ID: 200504

Buy select cases through Ivey Publishing and Harvard Business Publishing.

Contact us by e-mail at Columbia CaseWorks or 646-745-8495.