If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! In October of last year, we shared the news that Tyson Foods, the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, took a five percent ownership stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat, makers of the vegan Beyond Burger.
Now, Tyson Foods has RAISED their stakes in the company, as they are reportedly looking to tap the growing demand for plant-based meat alternatives. Tyson Foods recently shared that they participated in Beyond Meat’s most recent funding round through their venture capital fund. Details of the investment were not disclosed, but if Tyson Foods feels confident enough to increase their stake Beyond Meat, we say that’s a good sign.
This has been a ground-breaking year for the Beyond Burger, the vegan burger that has been widely lauded for it’s spot-on meaty and juicy flavor and texture profile AND it actually “bleeds” beet blood when you cook it. You can now find the yummy burger in 4,300 store locations, and Beyond Meat also entered into a partnership with the largest food distributor in the U.S, Sysco this year, further helping the burger reach tens of thousands people, making healthier, plant-based burgers that are better for animals and the planet more accessible than ever. Not to mention, the company also got an investment boost from none other than Leonardo DiCaprio.
Tyson is clearly aware of the power of plant-based meats as CEO Tom Hayes recently stating on a radio show that he is excited about plant-based protein. It’s really no surprise Tyson would increase their stake in Beyond Meat!
Thanks to growing awareness that meat is not the healthiest or the most sustainable source of protein, demand for alternative protein sources are at an all-time high. According to some estimates, the plant-based meat market is set to reach $5.2 billion by 2020 and could make up one-third of the market by 2050.
And Tyson Foods isn’t the only company interested in plant-based foods. Food giant Nestlé recently bought Sweet Earth Foods, a Californian-based company known for vegan meals and snacks made from plant-based proteins. Major beef supplier Cargill recently sold off the last of their cattle feedlots and is focusing on transitioning their meat department to more broadly focus on “proteins,” denoting the inclusion of plant-based proteins – they also made an investment in Memphis Meats. Canadian meat processor, Maple Leaf Foods acquired Lightlife Foods earlier this year and just recently made another acquisition into the plant-based food sector when they bought Field Roast, a plant-based company known for products such as tempeh, vegan sausages, and burgers.
Some may be hesitant to embrace meat industry giants like Tyson getting involved in the plant-based sector, but we are reaching a time where the question of how we are going to feed a growing population that is set to reach nine billion by 2050 cannot be ignored. Demand for protein in the developed and developing world is at an all-time high, with the average person in the U.S. consuming 103 grams per day, around double the actual recommended amount. The animal agriculture system already covers over 45 percent of the world’s land mass, uses a majority of finite freshwater water resources, and is responsible for rampant air and water pollution – not to mention is the largest singular source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Even with all the resources that this industry uses, nearly one billion people still go hungry.
With the help of companies like Tyson, there is hope in shifting our broken food system away from industrial animal agriculture and towards a more sustainable one centered around plant-based proteins instead.
To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.
Image Source: Beyond Meat/Instagram
It’s a sign of the times. Vegans et al are now mainstream enough to become big business. Congratulations on your new supplier!