Tyson Foods Parts with Beyond Meat to Pursue Solo Meat-Substitute Venture

Avid carnivores might think that plant-based food alternatives is just a crazy trend, but big food companies like Tyson Foods do not agree. As a matter of fact, Tyson Foods—who, by the way, is one of the biggest poultry, beef, and pork producers in the world—has announced plans to sell meat substitutes starting as early as this summer. While these products will, at least at first, only be available on a limited bases, Tyson Foods CEO Noel White said that the meat substitute line should have a bigger roll out this fall.

And its not just a passing fad.  The plant-based “fake meat” trend continues to pick up momentum.  Demand for these products is on a meteoric rise as consumers are making more conscious decisions about their diets as well as about how their food sources affect the environment.  And with that, Euromonitor International suspects the US meat-substitute retail market could grow to 2.5 billion within the next three years.

That in mind, Tyson saw an opportunity to invest in the shift, starting with a mere 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, in 2016.  They upped the stake within a year but then, somewhat inexplicably, exited the deal.  As the company explained, in a statement: “Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time was 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.”

The separation comes as Tyson begins working on its own products: Beyond Meat did not want a competitor as an investor.  But if Tyson Foods wants to compete, they will have their work cut out for them.  Beyond Meat had one of the strongest stock market debuts this year, so far, surging 163 percent this week.  Beyond Meat has a market value of $3.97 billion which, granted, is still significantly lower than Tyson’s market value of $22.66 billion.

But that significant difference in market value is not a deterrent for Beyond Meats (and its closest competitor, Impossible Foods).  After all, even though the percentage of vegans and vegetarians remains relatively stable year in and year out, in the United States, consumer mindset is shifting.  And this means the US meat substitute market could be worth upwards of $1.44 billion; and is expected to grow nearly 74 percent, in 2023, to $2.5 billion.

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