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Impossible Whopper a ‘huge hit’ says Burger King, as brands hit back at ads attacking plant-based burgers

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Jose Cil (CEO): It has quickly become one of the most successful product launches in Burger King's history. What's especially exciting is that sales have been highly incremental and have attracted new types of guests.

ELAINE WATSON: ‘A series of ads attacking the next generation of plant-based burgers as ‘ultra- processed’ products ‘hiding’ scary unpronounceable ingredients is a crude attempt by a “dark-money front group funded by Big Beef to mislead consumers and push propaganda,” claims Impossible Foods, which says its products are “better for people and the planet than the products they replace.” Its comments came as The Center for Consumer Freedom (CFF) – a nonprofit founded by former tobacco lobbyist Richard Berman, who critics say has perfected the art of setting up nonprofits to advance corporate interests – ran a full page ad in the New York Times with the headline, ‘What’s hiding in your plant-based meat?’…

So are these concerns – fair or otherwise – filtering through to the consumers that Impossible Foods et al are attempting to reach (ie. meat eaters/flexitarians as well as vegans and vegetarians)? While the ‘highly processed’ narrative has gained some traction in the media, with some reporters querying whether burgers with similar levels of saturated fat and more sodium than beef burgers are much better for humans (even if they are better for animals and the planet), recent indicators suggest the top brands are performing well.

Although it’s still early days, the Impossible Whopper – which rolled out nationwide at Burger King in August – has been “a huge hit with our guests,” said Jose Cil, CEO at Burger King’s owner Restaurant Brands International. Speaking on the Q3 earnings call on Monday, Cil said: “It [the Impossible Whopper] has quickly become one of the most successful product launches in Burger King’s history. What’s especially exciting is that sales… have been highly incremental and have attracted new types of guests. “We’ve done a lot of research and found that the appeal is quite broad based across several types of consumers. We see a lot of Millennial and Gen Z customers who tend to really connect with the message around sustainability. We also see older guests that perhaps used to come to Burger King, but haven’t visited in a while”…

According to, Dr Rachel Cheatham at food and nutrition consultancy FoodScape Group: “To use scare tactics to suggest animal meat products are cleaner label, and therefore superior to plant- based meat products, is inaccurate and unhelpful to consumers. Let’s not forget many of the biggest meat industry players are now invested in both animal and plant options, in recognition of what consumers want. The industry is essentially fighting against itself with this sort of advertising”.’  SOURCE…

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