Impossible Foods is adding universities, company dining halls and other institutions to its new sales channels.
CHICAGO – Impossible Foods, maker of the plant-based Impossible Burger, has established roots in Chicago — a city once known as the largest meatpacking center in the United States.

The company announced the startup of a non-commercial foodservice sales business that will pursue universities, company dining halls and other institutions for new growth channels. The Univ. of Chicago became the first university to serve the Impossible Burger when the plant-based burger —that looks and tastes like a beef burger, according to the company — debuted on Oct. 19 at the Tiffin Café on the campus. Later this year, the Impossible Burger also will be offered at the university’s International House. Both restaurants are operated by Palo Alto, California-based Bon Appetit Management Co.

“Chicago has always been a culinary trendsetter,” said Dr. Patrick O. Brown, Impossible Foods’ CEO and founder. “A hundred years ago, Chicago was the ‘hog butcher for the world’ in Carl Sandburg’s famous phrase. But today Chicagoans are demanding meat that’s delicious, nutritious and sustainable.”

Brown held a question-and-answer session with students at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on the Univ. of Chicago campus, where Brown is no stranger. He is a former pediatrician, trained at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, and biochemistry professor who received three degrees from the Univ. of Chicago.

Bon Appétit Management, a subsidiary of leading foodservice organization Compass Group North America, will serve the Impossible Burger in the headquarters of several San Francisco Bay Area companies in addition to the two Univ. of Chicago locations.

New York-based Restaurant Associates, a provider of food services to more than 160 locations, will offer the Impossible Burger to their customers on the East Coast.

“Impossible fans love to order the burger at their favorite restaurants — and with the average American eating burgers three times per week, more and more people want to enjoy the Impossible Burger at work or on campus,” said David Lee, Impossible Foods’ COO and CFO. “We’re now open for business with universities, companies and other institutions focused on providing sustainable, nutritious and delicious food to their patrons.”

The Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients including wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and heme, which contributes to the characteristic taste of meat. Impossible Foods developed a process to produce heme from plants.

In September, Impossible Foods opened its first large-scale manufacturing plant, in Oakland, California. The company plans to expand distribution to more restaurants and universities as the Oakland plant ramps up over the next several quarters. Impossible Foods also is developing other plant-based meat and dairy products.