Impossible Foods debuts meatless sausage at Little Caesars

DETROIT — Plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods is debuting its second product — meatless sausage crumbles — on Little Caesars pizza.

Little Caesars will start testing the Impossible Supreme Pizza on Monday at 58 restaurants in Fort Myers, Florida; Yakima, Washington; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The $12 pizza also comes with mushrooms, caramelized onions and green peppers.

If the test goes well, Detroit-based Little Caesars could expand availability nationwide.

It’s already been a busy spring for meat substitutes. Earlier this month, Impossible Foods’ rival Beyond Meat debuted on the Nasdaq; its stock price has more than tripled since the IPO.

Burger King is testing an Impossible Whopper and could sell it nationwide by the end of this year. Tim Hortons announce this week that it’s testing a Beyond Meat breakfast sausage in Canada. Even U.S. meat producers like Tyson Foods are investing in plant-based meats.

Little Caesars approached Redwood City, California-based Impossible Foods earlier this year seeking plant-based meat for its pizzas. Impossible Foods developed the sausage with custom sweet Italian seasoning for Little Caesars.

So far, Impossible Foods isn’t selling the sausage anywhere else and hasn’t announced any plan to, spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said.

Impossible’s sausage is made in the same way as its burger. The company uses heme — the protein molecule that gives meat its juicy texture — from the roots of soy plants. Instead of harvesting it from individual plants, Impossible makes batches of heme by fermenting yeast that is genetically encoded with the soy plants’ DNA. To make “meat,” heme is mixed with other ingredients like soy protein, coconut oil and sunflower oil.

Konrad said the Impossible Sausage has a higher fat content than the Impossible Burger. It has no cholesterol, 17 grams of total fat, 17 grams of protein and 270 calories in a quarter-pound serving. By comparison, Johnsonville’s sweet Italian ground sausage has 80 mg of cholesterol, 26 grams of total fat, 20 grams of protein and 340 calories.

Impossible Foods was founded in 2011 and started selling its burgers to restaurants in 2016. They aren’t yet sold at grocery stores. The company has raised more than $750 million in multiple rounds of funding from investors including Bill Gates, Serena Williams, Trevor Noah and Jay-Z.

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