Plant-based startup Impossible Foods is considering filing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) within the next 12 months with a valuation of up to $10 billion, Reuters reports. Sources familiar with the matter said that in lieu of an IPO, Impossible Foods is also considering a merger with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), a shell company that raises funding through an IPO with the purpose of acquiring a private company—an alternative way for Impossible Foods to become a publicly traded company with the benefit of reduced regulatory scrutiny. According to Reuters, spokesperson for Impossible Foods declined to comment on the matter, which is still under discussion. 

Founded in 2011 in Redwood City, CA, Impossible Foods debuted its plant-based Impossible Burger at select upscale restaurants in 2016. Since then, the brand has seen explosive growth. On the foodservice side, Impossible Foods’ products are now available at fast-food giants such as Burger King, Starbucks, and Disney-operated properties, along with many others. The brand made its retail debut in 2019 at approximately 150 stores and expanded its retail footprint by 100-fold amid the COVID-19 pandemic to 20,000 store locations, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Costco. Impossible Foods also made several price cuts, in both retail and wholesale, to better compete with animal meat. 

Throughout the last decade, Impossible Foods was supported by substantial investment capital raised to fund its mission of making animal products obsolete. In 2019, the company raised $300 million from a large group of investors, including celebrities Serena Williams, Jay-Z, and Katy Perry. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020—when investor confidence in other sectors was low—Impossible Foods secured an additional $500 million in capital, bringing its total funding to $1.5 billion. 

This month, Impossible Foods is launching its first national television advertising campaign “We Are Meat,” with five commercials that target meat-eaters with a bold message that challenges the idea that meat must exclusively come from slaughtered animals. The company’s overarching goal is to replace all food animals by 2035 with viable plant-based alternatives for the benefit of people, animals, and the planet. “By far, the biggest factor in climate change and the collapse of global biodiversity is the use of animals as a food technology. Nothing comes close. We have to get rid of it,” Impossible Foods CEO Patrick O. Brown said. “It’s much more important than replacing fossil fuels in terms of benefits for the world.”

Vegan companies go public 

If Impossible Foods chooses to pursue an IPO, it will join a growing number of publicly traded plant-based companies. In May 2019, Beyond Meat made history when it became the first vegan meat brand to IPO—recording surges in stock prices up to 163 percent on its first day of trading, making it the top-performing first-day stock that year. In Canada, vegan company The Very Good Food Company—parent company of vegan meat-maker The Very Good Butchers—saw similar success when it began trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in June 2020. The Canadian vegan company’s stocks rose by 800 percent within the first few days of trading.  

In addition to Impossible Foods, other plant-based companies are considering going public. In January 2021, Swedish import Oatly hired Morgan Stanely, JPMorgan Chase, and Credit Suisse to manage its IPO, which is anticipated to go forward this year and raise up to $1 billion for the vegan oat milk brand. Eat Just—makers of mung bean-based JUST Egg—has been eyeing an IPO as a financing event since 2019. While the startup’s CEO Josh Tetrick initially thought the COVID-19 pandemic would thwart plans to IPO, the opposite occurred as consumer habits and the company’s rapid growth pushed Eat Just closer to becoming a publicly traded company. Currently, Tetrick is waiting until Eat Just hits operating profitability by the end of 2021 at which point he will “really begin considering an IPO.”

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