Tyson Foods ‘Beefs’ Up Initial Investment in Beyond Meat
Tyson Foods, the USA’s largest meat company, has increased its stake in Beyond Meat, the El Segundo, California-based producer of plant-based protein made from peas, soy, beet juice and other ingredients. While the amount of the investment was not disclosed, it is part of a $55 fundraising round generated by venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue LLC to help Beyond Meat triple production capacity, increase R&D, expand its portfolio and extend distribution.
“Global demand for all protein remains high and we’re passionate about meeting that demand sustainably,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president for corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer at Springdale, Arkansas-headquartered Tyson Foods. “Our investment in Beyond Meat provides another fantastic alternative for consumers as we strive to sustainably feed the world. It reinforces our focus on protein and enables us to support efforts to produce new, leading edge products.”
Tyson Foods’ venture capital fund was launched in December 2016 and is focused on investing in promising entrepreneurial food businesses that are pioneering new products or technology. In addition to Tyson, investors in the privately held Beyond Meat company include Bill Gates, actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Kleiner Perkins, former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman, and the Humane Society of the United States.
On December 5 Beyond Meat announced that its meatless burgers are available in more than 5,000 retail store locations across the USA. That’s in addition to the 3,700 restaurants, hotels, college dining halls, and other food service outlets nationwide serving up the faux meat option.
Americans on the East Coast can now find Beyond Burger products in the meat section of 770 Ahold-owned Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, Giant Carlisle and Martin's stores. The additional distribution comes on the heels of Beyond Meat’s expansion to over 130 Shaws locations, as distribution grows to meet rising demand.
"We are excited that Ahold is placing the Beyond Burger in its meat cases," said Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat. "We know that up to 70% of consumers are looking for alternatives to animal protein, and applaud Ahold on providing them with expanded choice within their meat aisle."
The company also markets frozen Beast Burger and Beastly Slider twin-packs and a variety of frozen pack offerings of faux meat components for use in making pasta and lasagna dishes as well as soups, fajitas, tacos, wraps and salads. Among them are gluten- and soy-free Beyond Beef Crumbles, featuring 13 grams of protein and three grams of fat per 55-gram serving; and Beyond Chicken Strips Southwest Style, grilled with a chipotle-lime blend and containing 20 grams of protein and 120 calories per three-ounce serving.
The Beyond Burger is promoted as “the world's only burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like ground beef from cows but is made entirely from plants, without GMOs, soy or gluten.” It packs more protein and iron than beef and is a cholesterol-free food, with less saturated fat than beef. A 100% vegan quarter-pound Beyond Burger sold in grocery stores has 4 grams of saturated fat and 22 grams of total fat, compared to an 80/20 beef burger's 9 grams of saturated fat and 23 grams of total fat.