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Serena Williams, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah And Jay-Z Help Push Impossible Foods To $2B Valuation

Serena Williams, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah And Jay-Z Help Push Impossible Foods To $2B Valuation

Impossible Foods
An Original Impossible Burger, left, and a Cali Burger, from Umami Burger, are shown in this photo in New York, Friday, May 3, 2019. A new era of meat alternatives is here, with Beyond Meat becoming the first vegan meat company to go public and Impossible Burger popping up on menus around the country. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Fake meat is disrupting the global meat industry and getting cultural endorsements from some of the biggest celebrity names on the planet.

Impossible Foods develops plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products and just got money and endorsements from Serena Williams, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah and Jay-Z, Forbes reported. The California company raised $300 million in its latest funding round from investors. Now valued at $2 billion, Impossible Foods has a goal to remove animals from the food system by 2035.

Its customers include Red Robin, White Castle and Burger King, and Impossible Foods plans to launch in retail stores later this year, according to Kori Hale, CEO of CultureBanx.

“It’s great that so many black cultural trendsetters are putting their money where the mouth is, especially with hypertension and heart disease so common within this community,” Hale wrote in a Forbes report.

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Jamarlin talks with Marlon Nichols, co-founder of Cross Culture Ventures, about the culturally-themed fund he started with Troy Carter.

About 48 percent of African American women and 44 percent of African American men have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention).

Plant-based proteins tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat, Mayo Clinic reported.

Fake meat startups are disrupting the global meat industry, according to Fitt Insider.

The recent $300 million Series E funding round brings Impossible Foods’ total funding to $687.5 million, according to Crunchbase. Lead investors included Horizons Ventures and Temasek Holdings.

Investment in plant-based meat alternatives rose to $16 billion in the last decade, according to The Good Food Institute, Hale reported. Supermarket sales of meat alternatives increased by 19 percent to $878 million in 2018, Nielsen reported. That’s nothing compared to the $270 billion-a-year U.S. meat industry sales, but “even traditional meat manufacturers like Tyson Food wants in on the plant-based alternative market,” Hale wrote.

Tyson was an early investor in Impossible Foods’ biggest competitor, Beyond Meat, which raised almost $250 million and just went public.

Tyson sold its 6.5-percent stake before the company went public and plans to produce its own product, competing with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson’s venture-capital firm Cleveland Avenue
was an early investor in Beyond Meat, Forbes reported. 

Other celebrity investors in Impossible Foods include will.i.am and The Roots bandleader Questlove. 

“We don’t pay for promotions or have an agency that seeks celebrities,” Impossible Foods chief financial officer David Lee told the New York Post.
There are also no immediate plans for an IPO. “We believe in self-reliance,” Lee said, according to Reuters.