Impossible Foods Inc., the maker of the eponymous plant-based burger, will be sold in more than 1,700 Kroger Co. stores nationwide under a new agreement, a dramatic increase in its retail presence as artificial meat gains wider acceptance.

The rollout, which will bring the products to Kroger stores in 28 states as well as the company’s website, represents an 18-fold increase in the burger-maker’s retail presence, Impossible Foods said Tuesday in a statement. The news follows an announcement last month that it would be on shelves in an additional 777 grocery stores in the U.S.

The partnership with the country’s largest grocer highlights the potential for increased demand for meat substitutes as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to slaughterhouses around the country, pressuring meat supplies in some parts of the U.S. Kroger said last week that it would limit purchase amounts of ground beef and fresh pork at select stores while “some processors are experiencing challenges.”

Impossible Foods Chief Executive Officer Pat Brown said in a press conference that while the company had only anecdotal evidence of consumers trying their product because of the potential shortage, the pandemic had a different, important impact. “A spotlight illuminating what’s actually involved in producing meat by slaughtering animals” is “bad news” for the meat industry, he said.

Impossible Burger, the faux-meat company’s signature product, has become one of the most popular items of its kind. It’s now found on Burger King menus, college campuses and Disney theme parks nationwide.

Yet it had struggled to gain a foothold in supermarkets due to additional regulatory steps with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use of a novel genetically modified ingredient known as soy lehemoglobin. That late start has given competitors such as Beyond Meat Inc., which has broader retail distribution, an advantage during the pandemic, which has brought restaurants to a grinding halt and driven higher demand for groceries.

Impossible Foods has been in talks with investors about raising more funds after receiving excess demand for a US$500 million funding round in March, Bloomberg reported.