The next target in Impossible Foods’ quest to eliminate the use of animals as a human food source is pork, and it’s coming soon to Burger King, although not one near you.
At a pre-CES news conference at Mandalay Bay’s Kumi restaurant Monday night, a company representative announced that the participants were the “first people in the world” to try the new plant-based product, which it provided as samples in the form of Impossible Pork banh mi, char siu buns, dan dan noodles, pork katsu, pork shumai and sweet-sour-and-numbing meatballs. A chef at an exhibition table scooped the seasoned pork and pleated wonton wrappers around it to make the shumai, while trays of all of the samples came steaming from the kitchen.
The verdict? Impossible Pork isn’t a very porky pork, as pork goes. So in the applications in which it was paired with strongly flavored vegetables — the banh mi, katsu and char siu buns — the flavor wasn’t easily identifiable. In the case of the dan dan noodles, however, it was unmistakably pork. Or at least tasted like it.
The fact that all of the samples were Asian-inspired was no doubt in part because Kumi is a Japanese restaurant. And when asked why pork was chosen for the company’s next rollout, CEO and founder Pat Brown said pork is particularly popular in Asian countries. In fact, he said, while beef — Impossible Foods’ flagship venture — is the most popular meat in America, pork is No. 1 worldwide, despite the fact that a third of the population is forbidden to eat it for religious purposes.
And the company pointed out the worldwide popularity of pork on signs placed around the restaurant, mentioning the Latin picadillo, German or Danish frikadelles, French-Canadian tourtiere and Italian ragu di maiale macinato, among others.
Brown, a professor emeritus in Stanford University’s biochemistry department, launched the Impossible project because of his concern about climate change, and the role that animals-as-food play in it.
While pork was in the spotlight Monday night, Impossible Foods announced that it also has extended that product by way of an Impossible Sausage, which it will debut this month in Impossible Croissan’wiches at 139 Burger Kings in test markets that don’t include Las Vegas (Albuquerque, New Mexico, being the closest). Burger King was the first food-service provider to make extensive use of the Impossible Burger; the popularity of the Impossible Whopper in test markets led to the company ending the test early and announcing that it would be available nationwide. Rachel Konrad, Impossible Foods’ chief communications officer, said Impossible Burger 2.0, the loose-meat product that was announced at a pre-CES event last year, is now in 17,000 restaurants. The company has not said when Impossible Pork will be widely available.
Asked what was next, Brown replied, “squid,” to titters from the crowd.
“We’re working on a whole slew of new products,” he said. “Our mission is to completely eliminate animals from the food system.”