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Tyson Farms has taken a five percent ownership interest in a vegan meat producing company. The name of the vegan meat producer is Beyond Meat and is based in California.
Beyond Meat is expected to use the funds from the investment to greatly expand their capacity and reach. The company will continue to be run by the founder Ethan Brown and Tyson Food’s investment will be overwhelmingly passive in nature. There was no mention regarding the size of the investment that Tyson Foods is making. The last major fundraising round that Beyond Meat had was for seventeen million but this round was for an undisclosed portion of the company back in October of 2015. Tyson Foods is expected to have invested a comparable amount.
Tyson Foods is not the first major company to invest in Beyond Meat. Microsoft, General Mills, and The Humane Society have all made investments in the past.
There was little mention of why Tyson Foods would make an investment in Beyond Meat. Tyson Foods is one of the leading meat producers in the country focusing on poultry and may have seen this investment not only as a way of diversifying revenue and potential by investing in an early stage startup company like Beyond Meat, but also as a way of improving on their overall corporate image, particularly as those who are concerned with the wellbeing of animals.
Certainly customers are increasingly pursuing non meat proteins both for ethical reasons as well as for health reasons. Grocery stores, in particular, have been devoting more of their freezer space to alternative meat products. Tyson Foods may be simply making what for them is a relatively small invesent on a company which could greatly expand its product lines and revenues in the future.
Nor is Tyson Foods the only large company that is doing so. Group Danone, the French food maker made an over ten billion investment in WhiteWave Foods, a similar but more advanced non meat based company.
Tyson isn’t only relying on this non meat product line having recently acquired Hillshire Brands for seven billion dollars last year which is another meat based company. Still, for Tyson, exploring alternatives to meat based products is not beyond their product purview and focus either.