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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, June 15, 2019 1:00 am

Meat alternative too hot?

Burger chains run short of Impossible Foods patties

Bloomberg News

Large restaurant chains Red Robin and White Castle are reporting shortages of Impossible Foods' popular meat-free patties, even as the plant-based food producer embarks on a nationwide expansion with Burger King.

Calls to a dozen Red Robins and the same number of White Castles on Thursday found that only two locations of each chain had Impossible Foods' patties available, with no consensus from the others on when they'd get them back. Individual locations from New York to Hillsboro, Oregon, with the burger on their menu told customers this week that they're fresh out.

The hit-or-miss availability of Impossible Foods items at the chains, which each have hundreds of restaurants, adds to shortages of the popular meat-free patties that mom-and-pop restaurants have been reporting for weeks. They underscore the pressure Impossible Foods is facing to show it can manufacture for the mass market and get a head start on wide distribution before a growing crop of rivals can catch up.

“We're waiting for it to come in,” said Rebecca Sparks, 34, supervisor at Left Coast Food + Juice in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. She said there is no word on when it will be available again.

Rachel Konrad, spokeswoman for closely held Impossible Foods, told Bloomberg that the gap between supply and demand “has nothing to do with Burger King,” without commenting on the reported shortages. The corporate offices of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. and White Castle also didn't respond to requests for comment.

The shortages coincide with the arrival of the Impossible Whopper at Burger King, which was tested in St. Louis in April before expanding to cities such as Miami and Columbus, Georgia. Under terms of a deal inked this year, Impossible Foods patties will be inside Burger Kings nationwide by the end of this year. The chain operates more than 7,300 U.S. restaurants in the U.S.