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Plant-based shrimp is a thing, and real-meat giant Tyson Foods wants a taste

Plant-based shrimp is a thing, and real-meat giant Tyson Foods wants a taste
[Photo: courtesy of New Wave Foods/Tyson Foods]

Plant-based meat is so last year: The latest animal protein to go green in a big way is shellfish.

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Tyson Foods announced today that it’s investing in New Wave Foods, which expects to have a shrimp alternative ready for food-service operators by early next year. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The San Francisco-based startup’s faux shrimp is made with sustainably sourced seaweed and plant protein, but it has no allergens or cholesterol. And it has fewer calories and less sodium than Mother Nature’s version.

Tyson is best known for its meat and chicken, but it has ventured into the plant-based space before. In 2016, the Springdale, Arkansas, food giant invested in Beyond Meat; it sold its share earlier this year.

Beyond Meat went public in May and has been one of the breakout IPOs of the year.

Other animal-protein powerhouses have embraced plant-based versions of their best-known foods, too. For example, Burger King is selling an Impossible Whopper, made with Impossible Foods’ fake-burger meat, and White Castle offers a meatless version of the iconic slider. KFC launched a plant-based chicken experiment in the United Kingdom, and in May Ikea announced it was working on a plant-based version of its beloved meatball.

Consumer interest in plant-based proteins stems from concerns about nutrition, animal welfare, and the environmental impact of meat. However, plant-based products are more expensive than traditional ones.

According to the market research firm NPD, 18% of the overall adult population in the United States is trying more plant-based foods.

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