With so much emphasis placed on how plant-based proteins are competitors for meat and poultry products, I never really thought about competition between companies that make those plant-based products.
Not until now.
A press release from Dave & Busters, the popular restaurant/arcade chain, brought attention to the fact that such rivalries do exist. And in this case, it was the more known Impossible Burger that was jilted for the Lightlife Burger.
Effective October 17, the Lightlife Burger started to be served at all Dave & Buster's locations in the U.S. and Canada, replacing the Impossible Burger.
“We’ve upgraded to Lightlife to keep up with the demand for plant-based foods,” Art Carl, vice president of Culinary and Beverage for Dave & Buster's, said in the release. ““We strive to be our customers’ first choice for fun, craveable food, and Lightlife helps us do just that by giving our guests an innovative and incredibly delicious plant-based burger.”
The press release doesn’t really explain anything that differentiates the two plant-based patty products, which leaves me scratching my head about this change. I also have to kind of chuckle to myself, because it kind of sounds like Dave & Buster's was in some sort of love triangle before finally telling Impossible, “sorry, but there’s someone else.”
One hypothesis I have came when I saw that the change was being made at all of Dave & Buster's locations in Canada.
The Lightlife Burger is a product of Canada-based Maple Leaf Foods, which earlier in 2019 announced that it was building a plant-based protein plant in the United States. A switch to the Lightlife Burger could be the politically-correct version for consumers on both sides of the border.
It could also have something to do with taste or price, but since I’ve never knowingly consumed either an Impossible Burger or a Lightlife Burger, I can’t address that with any authority.
Still supporting meat and poultry industries
While you would be hard-pressed to find anybody in the poultry industry who would be thrilled to see plant-based protein products served at multi-national restaurant chains, the Lightlife choice might bode better for the meat and poultry industries.
Parent company Maple Leaf Foods is also involved in the production of chicken, turkey and pork, and when Maple Leaf entered the plant-based protein sector, CEO Michael H. McCain emphasized that its decision to acquire Lightlife Foods was more about offering more protein choices. He said: “There’s a significant consumer trend to not eat less meat, but to increase protein consumption in a more balanced way. … It’s really about consumers’ choice, not one or the other, it’s typically both and finding the balance for both.”
I don’t think Impossible Burger’s parent company, Impossible Foods, has the same philosophy. So with that in mind, I’d venture to say that if Dave & Busters had to choose a plant-based patty, it chose well.