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Impossible Foods debuts faux-chicken nuggets at restaurants

September 7, 2021, 2:08 PM UTC

Impossible Foods Inc.’s new faux-chicken nuggets go on sale at about 150 restaurants Tuesday, with a grocery rollout set to follow later this month, as food companies jockey for the new segment of the imitation-meat market. 

Restaurants serving the nuggets include David Chang’s Fuku in New York City and Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles. They will also be available at regional chains such as Fatburger and some Dog Haus locations this week. By the end of the month, supermarkets including Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway will sell the nuggets. More than 10,000 grocery stores will offer them by the end of the year, according to a statement from Impossible Foods. 

The nuggets use textured soy protein and sunflower oil to replicate the bite and fatty mouthfeel of real chicken nuggets. Notably, the new product doesn’t include heme, the ingredient that gave Impossible’s burgers and sausages their fake meatiness, but also kept them from being sold in Europe and China because it’s genetically modified.

While rival Beyond Meat Inc. beat Impossible to launch a faux-chicken product, debuting a ground “tender” in July, Beyond’s product is still only available in restaurants, not with retailers. Both products will be sold at Dog Haus locations, though restaurant partner Hagop Giragossian said they are “not in competition” and predicted “customers would love both.”

Beyond and Impossible forged an early lead in beef and pork substitutes but have trailed other food makers in plant-based poultry.  Maple Leaf Foods Inc.’s Lightlife, Kellogg Co.’s Morningstar Farms and Conagra Brands Inc.’s Gardein, as well as newer entrants like Daring Foods Inc. and Livekindly Collective, have all rolled out chicken products.

Still, Impossible has a loyal fan base. “We’ve considered and tried competitors but we’ve continued to stay closely aligned with Impossible,” said Alex Munoz-Suarez, chief executive officer of Fuku. “We were waiting for that launch.”

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