Red Robin, White Castle report Impossible Burger shortages as Impossible Foods struggles to meet demand

Meatless burger trend embraced by fast food chains

Fast food restaurants are rushing to add meatless burgers to their menus in hopes the higher price alternative will help boost traffic and revenue.

Some Impossible Burger fans were left worried Friday that Impossible Foods was pursuing “mission impossible” after reports surfaced detailing shortages of the product at several White Castle and Red Robin locations -- but the plant-based protein maker said it’s been implementing changes to meet the growing popularity of its meatless patty.

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The Impossible Burger took the food industry by storm earlier this year when the California-based company launched its 2.0 version that fans described as “shockingly good.” On Friday, the plant-based meat patty supplier appeared to be struggling to meet the surge in demand for its product after Bloomberg and The New York Times reported that the Impossible Burger was scarce at a dozen White Castle and Red Robin restaurants across the U.S.

White Castle Vice President Jamie Richardson told FOX Business that the shortage was due to the recent switch of the Impossible Slider patty shape from round to square to match the other sliders on the chain’s menu.

“Right now [the current shortage] it’s because of two key things -- one is people love the product and they’ve come back and bought more and more, which is great,” Richardson said. “Another thing is that we looked at our menu and realized that every slider is square, so a while back we started working with our friends at Impossible to change the round shape of our Impossible slider to a square Impossible Slider so that is what will be in our restaurant this week.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Impossible Foods, however, admitted it's struggling to meet “scorching” demand for its product.

Rachel Konrad, a company spokeswoman, told FOX Business on Monday that Impossible Foods produced a record amount of its meatless patties last month. The plant-based burger is now in more than 9,000 restaurants, which also include Little Caesars and Qdoba. Burger King, which has about 7,200 locations, also announced in April it plans to roll out the Impossible Whopper nationwide by the end of 2019. The meatless burger has been added to about 300 U.S. locations so far.

“We recognize the inconvenience that scarcity causes and sincerely apologize to all customers, particularly those who have come to depend on the additional foot traffic and revenue that the Impossible Burger has generated," Konrad said in an email statement. “In addition, we’ve apologized to consumers who can’t get as many Impossible Burgers as often as they’d like over the next couple weeks.”

Konrad said the recent shortages have already been addressed by the company and changes have been implemented to meet the growing demand. Its plant in Oakland, Calif. now runs 24/7 with 130 full-time workers on 12-hour shifts. The plant also trained another 25 new employees last week and is continuing to hire more people to increase headcount, according to Konrad.

“To achieve continued breakout growth, the company will add more manufacturing capacity and is actively pursuing strategies for doing so,” Konrad said without providing further details on Impossible’s future plans.

Impossible Foods admitted it was struggling to meet "scorching" demand for its Impossible Burger, but said changes have been implemented. (Impossible Foods)

For now, fans of White Castle’s Impossible sliders will be able to order the item -- now in a square patty -- at all restaurants by the end of this week. Richardson said most of the White Castle locations have been restocked as of Monday, but shipments of the Impossible patties will continue throughout the week.

A PR firm that represented Red Robin told FOX Business the chain has no comment on the reported Impossible Burger shortages.

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Richardson told FOX Business that he and White Castle aren’t concerned about Impossible not meeting demand.

“They’ve been an outstanding partner and they’ve worked with us every step of the way,” Richardson said. “We fell in love with the people at Impossible for the same reason we love what they sell us, which is that they’re really smart and really dedicated with doing the right thing all along.”

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Richardson said the chain’s partnership with Impossible has “allowed us to take [plant-based protein] to a larger audience and make it a lot more approachable” and affordable.