Tyson, one of the world’s largest meat producers, is now hedging its bets as more and more people decide to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Tyson just acquired a 5% stake in the startup Beyond Meat, a company that makes highly realistic plant-based meat alternatives sold at supermarkets around the country. It is currently campaigning to have its most recent product, the Beyond Burger–made from pea protein and coconut oil (with a dash of beet juice for redness), sold in the meat case alongside juicy ground sirloin.
The investment follows a trend of large corporations taking stakes and acquiring well-known sustainable brands. In the last few years, for example, General Mills bought organic food maker Annie’s for $820 million in cash and Unilever acquired cleaning products company Seventh Generation for more than $600 million in cash. Now it looks like the fake meat sector, which has attracted a number of startups looking to “innovate” better quality alternatives, is possibly the next target.
Beyond Meat’s previous investors include buzzy tech luminaries like Bill Gates and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. But an investment from Tyson signals that the larger meat industry is starting to pay more attention to the dent that alternatives may be making in its market.
“We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market,” Tyson Foods’ executive vice president of foodservice Monica McGurk said in a release. “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.”