Impossible Foods heads for school cafeterias

17 May 2021

Impossible Foods will be “widely entering” school breakfast and lunch programs in the fall of 2021, the company announced in a release. This foray into the public school system was made possible following Impossible Foods’ acquisition of the Child Nutrition Label from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in April.

Child Nutrition Labels are voluntary food crediting statements that determine how much a particular food contributes to federal meal pattern requirements for nutritionally balanced meals for children. These labels are used by schools that participate in federally-funded lunch programs, which Impossible Foods is now eligible for.

Impossible Foods heads for school cafeterias
Courtesy of Impossible Foods

Already, the California company has begun to pilot the use of its plant-based protein in school districts in California, Washington and Oklahoma. In the program, participating schools are offering dishes on their menus, including Impossible street tacos, Impossible Frito pie and spaghetti with Impossible meat sauce. Furthermore, Food Navigator reported that the plant-based protein company has struck deals with private and charter schools across the U.S.

“Making Impossible products available everywhere people consume meat, which for kids often includes schools, is key to the mission of the company,” said Pat Brown, CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods in a statement.

Making its products available everywhere is a mission that the company is diligently working to fulfill. In recent months, Impossible Foods has put substantial effort toward its expansion efforts. Last July, the plant-based burger company announced it would be available in 2,100 Walmart stores across the country just days after it revealed its partnership with Trader Joe’s for nationwide retail sales. Between April and July of last year, the number of retail locations at which Impossible products were available expanded by eight times.

Stepping into the school lunch market gives the company yet another opportunity to dominate a distribution channel where plant-based meat has made little headway. Although 230 school districts in the U.S. are listed as Meatless Monday participants and processed meat has fallen out of favor with those planning school lunches, there have been few replacement solutions for the animal protein that has been taken off the menu. Should Impossible Foods expand its pilot program into full-fledged partnerships, there will be a large market into which to introduce its products. In the U.S. school served 5 billion lunches and 2.4 billion breakfasts in 2019, per USDA data.

While sizeable, selling to school districts to generate an additional revenue stream is only part of the appeal of entering school cafeterias. If Impossible Foods is able to introduce its products to children early, it has a chance to familiarize children with the flavor of its plant-based protein products and turn them into life-long consumers.

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