Rachel Konrad isn’t mincing words about Lightlife Foods. The Impossible Foods communications head said someone on the competitor’s marketing team should be fired over its Clean Break campaign promoting its own plant-based burgers.
Lightlife Foods last Tuesday ran an open letter to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, penned by Lightlife president Dan Curtin.
He wrote in the ad that Lightlife is making a “clean break” from “food tech companies” to use simpler ingredients and methods.
“Enough with the hyper-processed ingredients, GMOs, unnecessary additives and fillers and fake blood,” he said.
Konrad said her team received calls the day before the open letter was published from journalists saying that a competitor was trashing Impossible Foods for using GMOs and selling highly processed foods. However, because the news was embargoed, journalists could not share details. They asked Impossible Foods for comment, but Konrad and her team refused to say anything until they knew more.
As soon as Konrad’s team saw the open letter on Tuesday morning, Impossible Foods wrote a blog post on Medium entitled, “Setting the record straight: An open letter to Lightlife in response to its false claims about Impossible Foods’ ingredients.”
Impossible Foods called Lightlife’s effort a “disingenuous, desperate disinformation campaign attempting to cast doubt on the integrity of our products.”
Impossible Foods has also been responding to social media posts tagging Lightlife’s campaign to share the blog post and educate consumers and journalists on GMOs and processed food.
“This is purely fear mongering,” Konrad said. “There is no legal definition of what processed food is and no understanding among consumers about what processed food is other than a gut reflex that this means Twinkies, and therefore it must mean junk food, and therefore it must be bad. In reality, literally everything we eat is a process between nature and science, including the organic banana you just bought at Whole Foods.”
She added that Impossible Foods’ stance is that it exists to solve global warming and biodiversity collapse.
“Lightlife’s messaging strategy is all about seeding fear and doubt about science, technology and innovation,” said Konrad. “This is the stupidest messaging I have ever seen. There is no genuine sentiment about it, and consumers see through that in a second. I guarantee someone is getting fired in Lightlife marketing today.”
Meanwhile, a Beyond Meat spokesperson said that its own burgers are made from simple, plant-based ingredients. No GMOs, synthetic additives, carcinogens, hormones, antibiotics or cholesterol can be found in Beyond Meat products, the spokesperson explained.
“Our foods are designed to have the same taste and texture as animal-based meat, giving more consumers more options that are better for them and the planet,” Beyond Meat’s spokesperson said.
Asked for comment about statements that the Clean Break campaign is misleading, a Lightlife spokesperson said, “The plant-based food sector is dynamic and growing, and when the companies in it?challenge each other by highlighting key differences and offering more choices, the consumer wins.”
The Lightlife spokesperson noted that it is the company’s view that people shouldn’t need to compromise by eating plant-based foods that are made in a lab.
“We're up for that challenge, and we hope everyone else is, too,” the spokesperson added.