At press conferences in California and Arkansas, the respective headquarters of Beyond Meat and Tyson Foods, the two meat companies – one massive, one small – announced a common goal: to broaden the availability of lab-grown meat, with the start-up keen to revolutionise the meat processing industry.
“This investment by Tyson Foods underscores the growing market for plant protein,” said Ethan Brown, CEO and founder of El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat.
“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.”
Brown did not disclose terms of the deal that has seen Tyson Foods become a minority investor. However, writing on his blog after the announcement, he said the capital raised will fund expansion of the company’s research and development programme – dubbed the Manhattan Beach Project.
He also moved to dispel concern than Tyson was “the enemy” because, unlike Beyond Meat, it slaughters animals. While he acknowledged Tyson had a “radically different view” on humanity’s relationship to animals, Brown said there was a lot the two companies agreed on: the need for sustainable protein against the backdrop of a rising population and innovation in the meat industry to drives profit and give consumers more choice being just two areas of mutual accord.
Tyson Foods’ investment in Beyond Meat comes after the start-up has already received financial backing from the likes of Bill Gates, venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins and the Humane Society of the United States. The privately-listed company has not confirmed the amount it received from investors.
Tyson focused on animal meat
“We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market,” said Monica McGurk, Tyson Foods’ executive vice-president of strategy and new ventures & president of foodservice.
“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 share price of Tyson Foods increased by 4.06% on Monday 10 October as news of its investment in Beyond Meat was made.