The company announced a minority stake in Memphis Meats, but details of the terms were not disclosed. Tyson joins DFJ, Atomico, Cargill, Bill Gates and Richard Branson as investors in the cultured-meat maker.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing meat, especially since global protein demand has been increasing at a steady rate,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business, but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
In October 2017, Tyson Foods acquired a 5 percent stake in El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat, which manufactures plant-based meat substitutes that have the taste and texture of animal protein. The company manufactures plant-based alternatives to meatballs, chicken strips and tenders, beef crumbles and burger patties. The products are made with soy or pea protein, and are free of gluten, dairy, trans fats, cholesterols and GMO ingredients.
In a statement, Tyson President and CEO Tom Hayes explained that the company has evolved beyond poultry processing. He said “…in truth, we’re about chicken and so much more. We’re about sausage and pepperoni. Scrambled eggs and convenience snacks. Deli turkey and beef jerky. And now, through our venture capital fund, cultured meats and plant-based proteins.”
Investments in cultured meat and plant protein companies provide Tyson Foods with innovative solutions aimed at providing a growing global population the protein they demand.
“We’re also stepping up our game on animal proteins by reinvesting millions of dollars in our core businesses and making bold moves that matter to consumers, like raising chicken without antibiotics,” Hayes added. “Consumers are eating more animal protein than ever before, and we’re committed to getting that protein to them.
“This isn’t an “either or” scenario; it’s a “yes and” scenario.
“If you think about it, a protein strategy inclusive of alternative forms is intuitive for Tyson Foods,” Hayes continued. “It’s another step toward giving today’s consumers what they want and feeding tomorrow’s consumers sustainably for years to come.”
Memphis Meats expects to put the investment toward accelerating product development. The company is currently recruiting to expand its team of chefs, scientists, creative people and business people.
“We are excited that Tyson Foods will be joining us in our mission to bring meat to the table in a sustainable, affordable and delicious way,” said Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “Our vision is for the world to eat what it loves, in a way that addresses today’s challenges for the environment, animal welfare and public health. We are accelerating our work and building out a world-class team to make this a reality.”