Tyson Foods has observed the change in consumer interests and decided to invest in meat alternatives.
The company Tyson Foods is practically synonymous with meat, whose biggest profits come from selling chicken, beef, and pork to consumers that don’t care about the source or treatment of their meat. They are a staple in most homes (Tyson touches 2 of 5 plates in the U.S.) and all regular grocery stores, and a change in their products and marketing seems unnecessary given their supposed success in their market.
However, with the change in food interests and hordes of people switching to organic, vegetarian, and vegan diets, Tyson seems to have realized that they need to invest in their future by looking into meat alternatives so that they can still make money from consumers turning away from meat. The company announced this month that they launched a new venture capital fund, called Tyson New Ventures LLC, in which they invested $150 million.
The LLC will have its funds distributed to companies that are developing breakthrough technology and business models, as well as companies that aim to make money by reducing food waste. Among its investments is the 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, a vegan startup that has grown exponentially by producing foods that act as alternatives to meat.
Beyond Meat has made alternatives to burgers and chicken with peas and carrot fiber, and they have launched their products in several stores thus far. When Tyson announced their undisclosed investment in the company, the owners explained why they welcomed the investment and said,
“I don’t expect to change Tyson. Nor does Tyson expect to change me. Instead, we both intend to serve the changing consumer…. The good news is that Tyson and I can–and do—agree on many other things including: the need for sustainable protein for a growing global population; that innovation can fuel growth and profit; and that business best serves the consumer by offering choice.”
Of course, Tyson is not the first company to invest in alternative foods and hopefully they won’t be the last. Their unwavering hand in the growth of the meat industry is likely to loosen its grip anytime soon, but its investments like these that show that the market for protein is changing as consumers’ interests change. Monica McGurk, the executive vice president of strategy with Tyson Foods, said,
“This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food, while remaining focused on our core fresh meats, poultry and prepared foods businesses, which are also experiencing tremendous consumer demand and growth.”
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