Impossible Foods wins Global Climate Action Award, makes East Coast retail debut

Impossible Foods is a recipient of the 2019 United Nations Global Climate Action Award, selected for its practicality and scalability. And speaking of scale, Impossible just made its East Coast retail debut!
Person putting impossible meat into grocery bag

Big news!! Impossible Foods is a recipient of the 2019 United Nations Global Climate Action Award. The plant-based meat producer is among 15 standout climate crisis solutions, chosen for their practicality and scalability.

And in a timely demonstration of scale, Impossible Foods just one-upped their West Coast retail debut by rolling out in one hundred Wegmans (and two Fairways!) on the East Coast.

Shrinking impact to make an impact

On the heels of the UN Climate Summit, the UN’s Momentum for Change initiative announced the 2019 Global Climate Action Award winners across four focus areas: Planetary Health, Climate Neutral Now, Women for Results, and Financing for Climate Friendly Investment.

Momentum for Change: Planetary Health is a three-year project, supported in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, which spotlights novel approaches to supporting healthy communities and healthy ecosystems. Impossible Foods was selected for the “Planetary Health” focus area.

Impossible’s game-changing approach to meat production offers the opportunity to radically shrink the ecological footprint of our meat supply. As Impossible Foods explains, “Each pound of Impossible Burger substituted for beef from a cow spares about 30 pounds of carbon equivalents and nearly 300 less square feet of land—land that could be used for carbon capture by trees and grasslands.”

Animal agriculture currently uses 77 percent of agricultural land globally, but supplies only 17 percent of humanity’s calories. Life cycle assessments of various plant-based meat products show a median land use savings of 93 percent, with median water savings of 95.5 percent and median greenhouse gas emission savings at 88.5 percent.

But these improvements can only be realized at scale if plant-based meat is as (or more!) delicious, affordable, and accessible as conventional meat. Crucially, plant-based meat must appeal to meat-eaters—not vegetarians or vegans. 

Impossible is hitting this mark. In 2016, the percentage of non-vegetarian Impossible customers increased from 75 percent to 90 percent.

It is exciting to see the UN Climate Change initiative recognizing the massive potential of finding better ways to produce meat. “This year, we had over 670 applications from all over the world ranging from local governments, global companies, grassroots development initiatives and multi-million dollar impact investment projects,” said Gabrielle Ginér, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel. “This year’s winning activities are amazing examples of innovative, scalable, and replicable climate action.”

Speaking of scale…

The unprecedented media splash of Impossible Food, Beyond Meat, and other next-gen plant-based meat producers has already inspired a tidal wave of new plant-based meat options (See JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, Tyson, Hormel, Smithfield, Perdue, and Marfrig, trying plant protein on for size ). Consumer demand for plant-based meat continues to surge as new products compete for conventional meat’s market share.

But Impossible isn’t waiting for other producers to fill the yawning market gap. Impossible launched their East Coast retail presence just a week after their historic West Coast retail rollout at 27 Gelson’s Markets in California. Now Impossible has quintupled that distribution with their East Coast launch at all one hundred Wegmans locations across seven states, as well as two Fairways in Manhattan.

Impossible burger retail display
Impossible Burger retail display | Source: Impossible Foods

According to sales insights that Impossible Foods just released, the Impossible Burger rapidly became the top-selling item at Gelson’s and Fairway—and has held its prime position. In fact, the Impossible Burger outsold the second most popular item by more than six-fold, during its first weekend retailing at Gelson’s Markets. “The Impossible Burger generated more excitement than any other single product we’ve seen in more than a half-century of operations,” said Gelson’s CEO Rob McDougall.

This retail distribution adds to Impossible’s formidable foodservice presence: Impossible meat is available in all 50 states at more than 17,000 restaurants, ranging from David Chang’s Momofuku to every Burger King in the United States.

“Three years ago we introduced plant-based meat to the world in Manhattan at Momofuku Nishi, where Chef David Chang said the Impossible Burger blew him away,” said Impossible Foods’ CEO and Founder Dr. Patrick O. Brown. “Now all home chefs in the Northeast can experience their own ‘David Chang moment’ in their own kitchens—and accelerate the inevitable consumer movement toward plant-based food.”


Mary allen

Mary Allen GFI ALUM

Mary Allen is a science writer, creative strategist, and GFI alum focused on the intersection of sustainability and emerging technology. Find more of her work at