SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods ended its investment in plant-based meat substitute manufacturer Beyond Meat which is preparing to go public next week with a valuation of more than $1 billion.
Tyson, through its Chicago-based venture capital fund Tyson New Ventures LLC, sold its 6.52 percent share in El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat to an undisclosed buyer. The amount of the transaction also was not disclosed.
In a statement, the company said, “Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit its investment. Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking. We wish the leadership of Beyond Meat all the best.”
Despite the sale, Tyson reiterated the company’s intention to compete in the alternative proteins space which, according to an Axios report, may have contributed to rising tensions between Tyson Foods and Beyond Meat.
“Tyson Foods continues to be committed to providing alternative protein as a choice for consumers and recently announced the creation of a new business focused on combining our creativity, scale and resources to make great tasting protein alternatives more accessible for everyone,” Tyson said. “We plan to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer.”
Meanwhile, Beyond Meat is expected to launch an initial public offering next week. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show the company plans to offer 8,750,000 shares at a price between $19.00 and $21.00 per share.
Officials with Tyson Foods first announced the company’s acquisition of a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat in October 2016. “We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market,” Monica McGurk, executive vice president of strategy and new ventures and foodservice at Tyson Foods, said at the time. “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.”
A year later, Tyson raised its ownership stake in Beyond Meat. “This investment reinforces our focus on protein and enables us to support Beyond Meat’s efforts to produce new, leading edge products,” Justin Whitmore, executive vice president, corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer, said at the time. “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.”
In 2018, Tyson acquired a minority stake in Memphis Meats which is a leading producer of meat grown from animal cells. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.