Impossible Burgers and other fake meat has American cattle ranchers on defense

Ranchers are seeing their retail sales dip as plant-based meat alternatives trend upward.

The growing popularity of meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger has U.S. cattle ranchers on the defensive as they petition for tighter regulations on the burgeoning industry.

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U.S. cattle ranchers have good reason to be concerned — Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown says his product's mission is to be "successful at the expense of the incumbent industry," according to The Wall Street Journal.

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His company claims its plant-based burger uses 96 percent less land, 87 percent less water and 89 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than a beef burger.

Meanwhile, cattle ranchers are seeing their retail sales dip as plant-based meat alternatives trend upward, according to The Journal. They're fighting back, including by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prohibit non-meat from meeting the agency's definition of "meat" and "beef." Laws limiting how companies can label fake meat have been passed in 12 states since 2017, The Journal reported.

Impossible Foods Inc. signage is displayed during the company's grocery store product launch in Los Angeles, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"We're not about saying you can't develop these products," Kenny Graner, president of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, told The Journal. "We've been saying, don't call it what it isn't."

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Beef producers are also taking their arguments to the American public. Graner's organization even takes to social media to fight back against Impossible Foods, accusing its products of being too salty and advertising t-shirts that sport a picture of a cow and the tagline "The Original Plant-Based Protein."

But fake meat is growing, popping up at the grocery store and in fast-food restaurants. The Impossible Burger is on menus in more than 17,000 restaurants, including Burger King and White Castle. Impossible Foods says it will roll out in grocery stores nationwide by next year.

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FOX Business' Jeanette Settembre contributed to this report.