New lab-based pork product aims to fill global protein gap

A new lab-produced, plant-based ‘pork’ products is being launched in the US this month, with one eye on the lucrative Chinese market.

Impossible Foods, which has already produced the Impossible Burger, now wants to appeal to a global audience with its vegetarian Impossible Sausage, tapping into demand for the world’s most popular meat at a time when supplies are being challenged by Asia’s African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

The product, unveiled at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, will be available at Burger King restaurants in the US in January, in a sandwich-based dish called the Croissan’wich, the BBC reports.

To see more about the product, click here

Rival plant-based firm Beyond Meat produced a lab-produced sausage product in 2018. Impossible Foods is also offering a ground pork substitute that it says can be used in a wide range of traditional recipes.

The company’s plant-based pork products contain soy leghemoglobin (also referred to as  heme), produced from genetically modified yeast. This contains iron and is also found in real meat and the company says this helps it closely mimic the taste and aroma of real meat.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved heme as a colour additive in September, clearing the way for Impossible to sell its burgers in grocery stores.

To imitate pork, Impossible’s scientists ‘reverse engineered’ a meat with a more subtle taste and higher fat content than beef, CNBC reports.

The company is marketing the products by highlighting that they contain no gluten, animal hormones or antibiotics and comply with kosher and halal rules.

While the initial focus will be in the US, the company is eyeing the lucrative Chinese market as it seeks to fill the huge gap made by the ASF outbreak, although regulatory approval will be a barrier. “We’ll be there as soon as possible once we get approval,” said Impossible spokeswoman Rachel Konrad.

Patrick Brown, Impossible Foods’ founder and chief executive, said: “Now we’re accelerating the expansion of our product portfolio to more of the world’s favourite foods. We won’t stop until we eliminate the need for animals in the food chain and make the global food system sustainable.”

NPA view

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the introduction of lab-based pork products came as no surprise.

“In the short-term, this sort of product is unlikely to have a significant impact on the market, but in the longer-term there is no doubt we will see more of it.

“However, the UK pig industry is in a very good position as consumers around the world appreciate and value the fantastic taste and quality of British pork products, produced to high animal welfare and environmental standards. There is nothing like the real thing – and it is more important than ever that we shout about what makes British pork great!”

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.