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Impossible Foods reaches manufacturing deal with OSI

The famed McDonald’s supplier will provide the plant-based meat maker with additional capacity to meet demand.
impossible whopper
Photograph courtesy of Burger King

Impossible Foods, which has found it almost impossible to meet a surge in demand for its product, on Wednesday announced a deal with food manufacturing company OSI Group to provide it with additional capacity to meet its customers’ needs.

OSI is a notable partner, largely because of its work with major restaurant chains, particularly McDonald’s.

Suburban Chicago-based OSI will begin making the Impossible Burger next month, adding short-term capacity to Impossible Foods’ plant in Oakland, Calif.

OSI will continue making Impossible Burger throughout the year and after.

“OSI has already installed equipment to make the Impossible Burger, and we’ll start seeing new capacity every week,” Sheetal Shah, senior vice president of product and operations for Impossible Foods, said in a statement.

The announcement comes as restaurant chains have rapidly jumped on the plant-based foods bandwagon. Chains such as White Castle, Cheesecake Factory and Qdoba have added Impossible Burger to their menus, while other chains such as Del Taco and Tim Hortons have added products from rival Beyond Meat, which saw its restaurant sales rise nearly 500% last quarter.

But the addition of so many customers has stressed Impossible Foods’ manufacturing capacity. That was made clear after Burger King announced plans to add the Impossible Whopper to its 7,200 U.S. restaurants by the end of the year.

Burger King is set to be the largest chain to add the product, significantly increasing the number of restaurants serving Impossible Burgers. Right now, about 10,000 restaurants feature the product, which was introduced in 2016.

That has led to reports of shortfalls of Impossible Burger as the company struggles to keep pace with what it calls “scorching demand.”

It has worked to respond to that demand, hiring former Dropbox executive Dennis Woodside as president to oversee the company’s scale-up. It then hired former Verifone executive Shah. It also announced a $300 million funding round to accelerate its scale-up.

The deal also adds yet another connection between the burgeoning plant-based meat market and McDonald’s, which so far has taken a wait-and-see approach with the trend, opting to let companies such as Del Taco and Burger King test it for them.

Still, OSI is a supplier for the company. Former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, meanwhile, is on the Beyond Meat board of directors and is a shareholder. Nestle and Tyson, two other McDonald’s suppliers, are working on their own plant-based products.

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