On Thursday Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, announced it had raised its stake in plant-based protein maker Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat is owed by Kellogg, the world’s largest cereal maker.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Beyond Meat is a privately held company whose established a mission of building meat directly from plants; frozen and fresh
Companies such as Beyond Meat are leading the charge in the meat substitute market. California-based Beyond Meat currently sells a variety of plant based products, such as ‘burger’ patties and heat to eat meals, to a number of grocery chains including Whole Foods, Kroger and Safeway.
Beyond Meat has been touting its Beyond Burger as the world’s only burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like sourced ground beef, but is made entirely from plants and without soy, gluten, or GMO’s.
For some time now, Tyson Foods has been looking to tap into the growing demand for alternative sources of protein. The traditional meat market has been under pressure for a number of years now as concerns surrounding animal welfare, and the environmental impact intensive animal farming can have on local communities, continues to grow. Along with concern for where ones meat products are sourced, the interest in meat substitutes grows as well. According to Oregon-based Allied Market Research, the meat substitute industry could see $5.2 billion in sales by 2020; an 8.4 percent increase from 2015.
One of Beyond Meat’s biggest competitor Impossible Foods, has received more than $250 million in funding since it was founded in 2011. Impossible Foods recently announced it construction on a facility in California was nearly finished. A facility which is said to be expected to produce as much a 1 million pounds of meatless meat a month.
Terms of Tyson’s most recent investment were not disclosed, but it did raise Tyson’s ownership beyond its current 5 percent share. The investment was made through Tyson’s venture capital fund, which was launched at the end of 2016; focused on investing in entrepreneurial food businesses that are either pioneering new products or technology.
“This investment reinforces our focus on protein and enables us to support Beyond Meat’s efforts to produce new, leading edge products. What we’re most excited about is that we can do all of this while continuing to provide the great tasting, high quality food that is the hallmark of our company,” Tyson executive Justin Whitmore said in a statement.
Beyond Meat has said funds raised from this latest round will allow the company to expand production, along with sales and distribution. The company has seen a great deal of success with its Beyond Burger product, which has become available at more than 11,000 retail stores and over 2000 foodservice outlets.
Beyond Meat said it raised $55 million in this latest round of funding and will seek to triple the size of its production capacity. Other investors in the company include Bill Gates, former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
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