US meat leader invests in a plant protein-based company
Tyson Foods appears to be the first big meat company to invest in a business that, among other things, aims to reduce consumption of chicken, beef and pork by replacing it with plant proteins.
Tyson, the country’s largest meat processor, has announced it is investing an undisclosed amount for a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, a company based in El Segundo, Calif, that makes “meats” from protein sources like soy and peas.
Beyond Meat this year began selling the Beyond Burger (pictured), for instance, a plant-protein burger sold fresh that sizzles and oozes fats while cooking on a griddle.
Whole Foods Market apparently finds it close enough to the real thing that the supermarket chain has been selling Beyond Burger next to the meat case in its stores.
“The quality of the Beyond Burger is amazing,” said Monica McGurk, a former Coca-Cola executive who joined Tyson in spring as senior VP in charge of strategy and new ventures. “We think it’s a game-changing product that gives us exposure to this fast-growing part of the food business.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The financing round includes other investors like the Humane Society of the United States, which also previously invested in Beyond Meat.
Americans are eating more plant-based foods, leaving conventional food companies scrambling to catch up. The Plant Based Foods Association said businesses in the United States, which include Beyond Meat, Califia Farms and Heidi Ho, rang up $4.9-billion in sales for the 12 months through June, and grew faster than the food business over all.
The venture capital arm of General Mills, 301, also has invested in Beyond Meat, as well as in Kite Hill, which uses nuts and other plant proteins to replace dairy products in cheese and other dairy items.
Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, said Tyson’s investment was the first she knew of in which a big traditional meat producer took a stake in a plant-based company…..
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