Imitation meat has been all the rage in the past few months. From Beyond Meat’s stock going through the roof following its IPO to the meatless Impossible Burger finding its way into Burger King, the alternative meat revolution is here.
Now, Impossible Foods is taking things a step further. The firm recently announced that it is working on a plant-based fish recipe. Though the company can undoubtedly achieve the feat, the question of marketability remains. Some fear that fans of “meatless meat” won’t be on board with “fishless fish.”
Biochemistry of Flavor
Impossible plans to tweak their existing meat recipe into one that tastes like fish and has the mouthfeel to match. Currently, the 124-person team is avidly researching the biochemistry of fish flavor. Though it certainly isn’t something to make small talk about at the bar, it makes for an interesting project.
For those who haven’t tried it yet, the Impossible Burger really does taste like meat. This undeniable flavor hails from heme, a protein that gives real meat part of its flavor. The team is using heme to recreate fish flavor for their new fishless fish product.
The group has already created a plant-based anchovy broth used for paella and Caesar salad dressing. While this flavor enhancer isn’t available to consumers, it marks the first step towards creating Impossible Fish.
Fishless fish is part of Impossible’s wide-scale mission to have a plant-based alternative for every animal food in the market by 2035. However, it is highly likely that the fish recipe will be available much sooner.
A core value of companies like Impossible Foods is to reduce the carbon footprint and climate impact of traditional meat production. For example, it takes more than 2400 gallons of water and 10 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef. Simply put, current methods of meat production are unsustainable.
That’s where plant-based alternatives come in.
The environmental impact of fishing is even greater than beef production. Estimates suggest that overfishing has depleted 90 percent of the ocean’s fish. Therefore, plant-based alternatives like Impossible Fish could help re-stabilize the marine ecosystems affected by this problem.
However, some people are concerned that restoring the oceans isn’t a good enough reason for consumers to switch to fishless fish. A considerable part of the draw towards fake meat is the perceived health benefits of cutting back on red meat consumption. Unfortunately for Impossible, eating a lot of fish hasn’t been connected to adverse health outcomes.
This fact leads many to wonder whether or not there will be a market big enough to support fishless fish outside of vegetarians and vegans. If not, Impossible may have a difficult time financially supporting the project.
Impossible Foods CEO, Pat Brown, isn’t worried though. He says, “The only way we can succeed is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip-mined from the ocean.”
If the company can accomplish this feat, consumers will likely be willing to give fishless fish a try. Surely, the environment is hoping it succeeds.