Air New Zealand has teamed up with Silicon Valley start-up Impossible Foods to serve a burger without meat to premium customers.

The plant-based Impossible Burger will be available as part of its Business Premier menu on flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland until late October.

The burger's key ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme, which comes from the roots of soy plants and s the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products.

Air New Zealand's in-flight customer experience manager Niki Chave said the plant-based option tasted just like the real deal.

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"We're confident vegetarians, flexitarians and dedicated meat lovers alike will enjoy the delicious taste.''

Those who wanted to stay with the tried and true can stay with the regular selection.

Impossible Foods chief executive and founder Patrick O. Brown said the company's mission was to make the global food system more sustainable by making products that didn't compromise on sustainability, nutrition or taste.

"The Impossible Burger is available in nearly 2500 restaurants throughout the United States and now Air New Zealand will help us take [it] to even greater heights."

Brown started Impossible Foods in 2011. It spent five years and more than $220m researching every aspect of the sensory experience of meat, from how it looks raw, to how it sizzles, to its texture.

What is it made of?

In 2016 the

Herald

reported the Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients found in nature, including wheat, coconut oil and potatoes. It also has a special ingredient, called "heme" which gives meat its characteristic colour and taste and is abundant in animal muscle, but the company discovered how to take it from plants and produce it using fermentation.

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Full ingredient list
Water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavours, 2 per cent or less of: leghemoglobin (heme protein), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, thiamine (vitamin B1), zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12.

How much does it cost?
Burgers went on sale in New York for about $15 in 2016.

What next?
Impossible Foods wants to develop chicken, pork, fish or yoghurt entirely from plants. The company says it will bring other products to market according to regional food preferences and customer demand.