Dave & Buster’s is taking the Impossible Burger off its menu, and swapping it out for a competitor.
“We’ve upgraded to Lightlife,” Art Carl, vice president of culinary and beverage for Dave & Buster’s said in a statement Thursday. Lightlife has been making vegan products for decades, and this year launched a burger that, like Impossible’s, is designed to look and taste like meat.
The restaurant chain first started serving the Impossible Burger in September 2018. Since then, demand for the Impossible Burger has grown significantly, leading to product shortages earlier this year. And recently, plenty of new competitors have jumped on the scene as demand for plant-based proteins grow — giving chains like Dave & Buster’s a slate of new options.
For Impossible, the spike in demand has been a mixed blessing. As orders started pouring in, the company struggled to keep up. To meet an increasing numbers of orders, Impossible has hired more employees and expanded capacity, and started selling restaurants its product in five-pound bricks, rather than pre-made patties. It says its shortage is over.
Impossible pointed to that larger format as a reason for the split with Dave & Buster’s.
“We have a great relationship with Dave & Buster’s and intend to continue it for the foreseeable future — particularly when we resume production of pre-formed patties,” the company said in a statement. “In the mean time, we respect the company’s decision to put plant-based items on the menu.”
Consumers interested in reducing their meat intake for health and environmental reasons have been buying more plant-based products. US retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11% in the past year, according to a July report from the trade group Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute. Barclays predicts the alternative meat sector could reach about $140 billion in sales over the next decade, capturing about 10% of the global meat industry. Jefferies predicts that by 2040, the alternative meat market could make $240 billion in annual revenue globally.
To get a piece of the growing plant-based pie, fast food restaurants have been adding plant-based proteins to their menu, primarily ones made by Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat.
But restaurants may start experimenting with other products as more become available. Established vegetarian brands like Lightlife and Dr. Praeger’s have launched their own meat substitutes. Big food companies like Nestlé and Kellogg are also entering the space, and even meat processors like Tyson and Smithfield are breaking into the plant-based market.
The new entrants mean that restaurants and consumers will have more choice based on taste, price, scale, nutritional profile and other factors.