The Impossible Foods shortage that has left independent restaurant owners scrambling to keep meatless burger patties in stock has apparently hit White Castle and Red Robin. According to reports by Bloomberg and the New York Times, multiple locations of the fast-food chains were in low supply of the plant-based burger, less than two months after Burger King announced a plan to serve Impossible Burgers in all 7,200 of its locations nationwide by the end of the year.
Impossible Foods told the Times and Bloomberg that its products—made from soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme, the ingredient that creates the meat-like texture and “bleed”—are on the menu at about 9,000 restaurants, although the company couldn’t say how many of them currently have Impossible Burgers in stock.
White Castle told Bloomberg on Friday that the meatless patties would be back in its restaurants on June 17 following a change in shape from round to White Castle’s signature square, but — according to calls made by Eater on Monday — the majority of the New York and New Jersey-area locations were still waiting on shipments of Impossible Burgers, expecting them to arrive later this week.
The shortages highlight how much pressure Impossible Foods is experiencing to ramp up production in the face of explosive consumer demand, as well as the brand’s desire to capture a larger market share of an estimated $140 billion alternative-meat industry. Per Bloomberg, one industry expert noted that major restaurant chains will naturally want assurances that once a new item is added to the menu, customers will reliably be able to order it. Restaurants aside, Impossible Foods’ production will also have to keep pace with the company’s plan to sell its products in grocery stores this year, pending FDA approval.
Impossible Foods faces fierce competition from rival fake-meat company Beyond Meat, which has seen its shares rise to more than 550% since its initial public offering. CNN reports that Beyond Meat, primarily known for its pea-protein burger patties, will be debuting a plant-based “ground beef” in grocery stores starting next Monday.
Between Beyond Meat’s good week and mega meat producer Tyson Foods’ recent announcement that it will debut plant-based nuggets this summer, Impossible Foods can no longer rely on the popularity of its fake meat to stay in business — the company will have to get its manufacturing up to speed, too.