Impossible Foods, the company known for making plant-based meat designed to taste, cook and look like real meat, may soon get into milk.
An Impossible milk, which is still in development, would be nothing like soy or other plant-based milks, promised CEO Pat Brown. Instead, the company wants the beverage to taste like the real thing. Any such drink is a long way from shelves, if it ever makes it to the market.
The company announced on Tuesday that it is planning to double its research and development team over the next 12 months in order to help it develop more plant-based products, like milk, and work on other initiatives. It has raised $700 million this year, and will use some of that to fund the hiring spree.
Impossible showed a plant-based milk prototype to reporters and others during a virtual conference call Tuesday as an example of the types of projects that the strengthened R&D team will tackle.
“We want the milk that a dairy milk consumer will choose,” Brown said.
Impossible, Beyond Meat (BYND) and other brands that make meat alternatives have introduced plant-based products that look and taste nothing like the black bean veggie burgers and tofu hot dogs that long dominated the market, but are designed to appeal to meat eaters by more convincingly mimicking meat. Similarly, Impossible’s goal would be to design a milk alternative for people who prefer the real stuff to any of the currently available alternatives.
Laura Kliman, senior flavor scientist at Impossible, demonstrated two of the prototype’s functional qualities from Impossible’s lab in Redwood City, California.
First she poured the milk into a hot cup of coffee to show how easily it mixed into the beverage. Plant-based milk alternatives usually don’t blend easily with coffee, and can make it cloudy or gritty. She also showed that the beverage can heat up and foam like dairy milk.
The prototype she showed was just that, though— the company is still figuring out the best way to make an alternative milk. It’s possible that what Kliman demonstrated could be the final recipe, or that anything which eventually makes it to shelves could be completely different.
“We have made prototypes from a number of different plant sources,” Brown said, adding that soy, which was an ingredient in the prototype, is “a very good choice from a nutritional standpoint and a supply chain standpoint, and for those reasons I think there’s a decent chance that it will be the base protein for our product.” Impossible uses soy to make its plant-based ground meat products, as well as the pork product it announced early this year.