Industry News - AM

Tyson Foods invests in meat alternative company

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 10/11/2016

Tyson Foods has taken a 5 percent ownership stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat, both companies announced on Monday.

The investment, provided through a fundraising initiative by Beyond Meat, will provide additional capital to help the company expand its product portfolio and distribution. Beyond Meat will remain an independent, privately held company led by Founder and CEO Ethan Brown.

Brown said, “This investment by Tyson Foods underscores the growing market for plant protein. I’m pleased to welcome Tyson as an investor and look forward to leveraging this support to broaden availability of plant protein choices to consumers.”

Tyson Foods’ Executive Vice President of Strategy and New Ventures & President of Foodservice, Monica McGurk, added, “We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market. It meets our desire to offer consumers choices and to consider how we can serve an ever-growing and diverse global population, while remaining focused on our core prepared foods and animal protein businesses.”

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Brown founded the Beyond Meat in 2009. By 2013, Whole Foods Markets was distributing Beyond Meat chicken-free products made with non-GMO soy and pea protein nationally. The company has since launched a “beast burger” made with pea protein and marketed as soy-free, gluten-free and non-GMO. Beyond Meat products are now sold in more than 10,000 stores across the United States.  

Beyond Meat bases its products on over a decade of research by University of Missouri professor Fu-Hung Hsieh on transforming soy proteins into palatable and consumer-acceptable products through high-moisture extrusion to produce a meat analog that resembles muscle food. 

As part of this or prior rounds of fundraising, Beyond Meat also has secured funding from investors including The Humane Society of the United States, Bill Gates, Kleiner Perkins and Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, among others. Last year, former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson joined Beyond Meat’s board of directors. Also last year, General Mills bought into the enterprise.  

(Editor's note: To read more about trends in meat alternatives and how they relate to the meat processing industry, read our cover story in the March 2016 issue of Meatingplace magazine.)    

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