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Beyond Meat specializes in selling plant protein that appears, feels, acts and even tastes like real chicken, just as the packaging on the product says.
That was sufficient enough for Tyson Foods Inc the chicken giant, to acquire a stake of 5% in the vegan start-up on Monday. Beyond Meat is based in El Segundo, California.
Beyond Meat has its products in 7,500 stores across the U.S. The new capital from Tyson will help boost its product development as well as distribution while keeping it independent and privately held, according to its founder and CEO Ethan Brown.
Brown said he was pleased to be welcoming Tyson as a new investor and looked forward to using the new support to broaden the availability of their plant protein choices.
For Tyson, this move is a quick way into an alternative foods sector that is rapidly growing and could represent up to one third of the protein consumption worldwide by the middle of this century, said one online research firm.
Tyson’s Food Service division’s president and EVP for New Ventures and Strategy said of the investment that it meets the company’s desire of offering choices to consumers and to consider a way in which Tyson can serve a diverse and ever-growing global population and at the same time remain focused on core prepared foods as well as animal protein businesses.
Other large food companies also have made moves that have been similar into the expanding organic and vegan markets, which have been done in part to polish their sustainability images.
Last February, Archer Daniels Midland the agriculture giant took control of Harvest Innovations which is a company specializing in soy protein that have ingredients that are oils and gluten free.
This past July, Danone based in France, acquired WhiteWave, a maker of plant-based and organic alternatives to normal dairy products. Danone is best known for its namesake yogurt and said that deal was worth over $12.5 billion.
Previous funding rounds for Beyond Meat include investors such as Bill Gates, Kleiner Perkins, Byers and Caufield a venture capital business in Silicon Valley and the Humane Society of the U.S.
This move comes less than 12 months after Beyond Meat added Don Thompson the former CEO of McDonald’s to its board of directors.