A Frosty Mug of Innovation
“When I was a kid, nothing could beat a plate of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of almond milk.”
— Nobody, ever.
To our Valued Investors:
People have been consuming the milk of other mammals since well before you were around. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Mesopotamians were chugging it down as early as 9000 BC, and the practice is believed to have commenced in what is now known as the Americas a few millennia later. Fast forward to the 1840s, and we know that milk production (and the popularity of drinking milk) had a tremendous boost courtesy of the development of railway systems. Inhabitants of urban centers, such as London, wanted their glasses filled and this cutting-edge transportation system was able to deliver the product from outlying rural spots. In 1863, Louis Pasteur figured out how to make the stuff much less risky to ingest by heating it enough to eliminate potential contaminants, and it was off to the races from there. The dairy industry now rakes in about a quarter of a trillion dollars each year.
As with every product that enjoys widespread and voluminous consumption, there exists a debate about milk’s health benefits and disadvantages. Proponents will tell you that milk is loaded with important nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and potassium. A cup of milk contains eight grams of a “complete protein,” featuring all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for your body to function at an optimal level. It promotes bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. On the other hand, detractors say that the milk of other species wasn’t “designed” for the human digestive system. These people dispute the bone health claims, they assert that the added protein is completely unnecessary if the individual’s diet is otherwise balanced and add that the increased caloric intake can create obvious issues. The pro vs. con division surrounding the famous white beverage has only intensified in recent decades, and no truce seem to be on the horizon.
Impossible Foods has come to the rescue. In a press conference yesterday, the Redwood City, California company known for its plant-based meat substitutes announced that it has produced a prototype for a plant-based milk alternative called Impossible Milk. Rather than simply cranking out yet another milky liquid meant to serve as a stand-in for the real thing by liquifying ingredients such as soybeans, almonds, hemp, or rice, Impossible is mimicking the playbook that brought so much success for their flagship offering. Originally, the company’s mission was to reduce the consequences of an enormous cattle industry by turning meat eaters toward vegan alternatives. They knew that the solution was not in offering yet another black bean “burger patty” to the market, but rather in applying molecular-level scientific studies to yield a non-meat food that holds all of the characteristics of the genuine article. It’s the same idea with Impossible Milk. The company has no interest in burdening the marketplace with yet another variation of a product that’s so limited in how much excitement it might generate. They want to create something that will take a chunk of the market share away from the dairy industry. Granted, the Impossible Milk that was heralded yesterday is indeed derived from soybeans, but it’s made with the same laboratory precision for which the company is already known. They don’t squeeze beans or rice or almonds into a cup and call it milk. They build a convincing replica by starting at the most basic structural level. The result, as demonstrated at yesterday’s gathering, is promising. Impossible Milk not only looks, tastes, and feels like it came from a cow, but it also blends into hot coffee without curdling and it can even be steamed to make a latte. This is a significant detail, given the relationship Impossible Foods already has with Starbucks Coffee and their successful Impossible Breakfast Sandwich featuring a plant-based (and extremely convincing) sausage.
Part of yesterday’s conference included a concession that Impossible Foods isn’t prepared to roll out the milk barrel just yet. What they unveiled was in fact a prototype, suggesting that there may be a few adjustments applied before arriving at an offering that is “ready for prime time”. To that end, the company is on a hiring binge. Included in yesterday’s flood of information were details about plans to employ more than 100 additional scientists within the next twelve months, doubling its research and development team and significantly accelerating new product development. The overarching objective is to continue to reduce carbon emissions and other environmental ills related to agricultural activity by generating more of what we eat and drink from a laboratory. Don’t bet against them. With their beef and sausage products, Impossible Foods has won over many devoted carnivores. Presumably these “die-hard meat lovers” outnumber the ranks of those who consider themselves “milk enthusiasts”, so a compelling and realistic milk alternative should face less of a challenge as it strives for success. Furthermore, just as Impossible beef opened the door a wide variety of other types of meat, Impossible Milk will surely lead to cheese products, sour cream, ice cream, butter, and dozens of other staples. The key is making their creations palatable, for which they have already demonstrated an impressive proficiency. After the company has twice as many scientists on the job (and the white lab coat-wearing bunch can get pretty competitive), it will be fascinating to see what they will be putting on supermarket shelves next.
With less than a decade in existence, Impossible Foods is a young company. Still, their innovations and the breakneck rate of their expansion into tens of thousands of restaurants and retail outlets cannot be ignored. Add to that the ambitions and imaginative plans the company has for the near future, and their attractiveness is undeniable. Unfortunately (for most people), though, Impossible Foods shares are not yet available to the investing public. It is a private company, not for sale at the stock exchange. Now, the good news: your friends at Iron Edge VC can deliver your piece of this promising enterprise before the masses have the opportunity to elevate the stock price. We can deliver Impossible Foods to you prior to its public offering. Demand for pre-IPO ownership has been rising steadily, but it is still early enough in the game to beat the rush. If you would like to learn more, or if you know of anybody else who would, do not hesitate to contact us by clicking “Get in Touch” below.
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All Our Best,
Paul Maguire, Managing Partner and The Iron Edge Team