Tyson Foods Injects More Money Into Plant-Based Meat

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Beyond Meat Beyond burgers have been showing up in a number of surprising places over the past year. With the latest funding round, they plan to push distribution even further in America and beyond.
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This week Tyson Foods announced that it made a follow-on investment into Beyond Meat, increasing the five percent ownership stake it established last year (terms were not disclosed). This was part of the latest fundraising round for the California-based Beyond Meat, which makes a burger designed to taste like a cow but is made from plants instead.

The latest fundraising round for Beyond Meat secured additional capital of $55 million. The round was led by venture capital fund Cleveland Avenue, which is notable given its founding by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson (Thompson joined the BM board back in ’15). This adds to the $90 million raised in previous rounds, with other notable investors such as Bill Gates, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

‘We see Beyond Meat as a strategic and compelling consumer-focused investment,’ said Don Thompson. ‘Customer response to Beyond Meat’s great-tasting products has driven its growth, and we’re excited about our investment as the brand continues to innovate for the future.’

Beyond Meat said it would use the funds to triple the size of its production. The company’s burgers are currently sold in more than 5,000 stores, including Whole Foods, Kroger and Albertsons. Beyond Meat has also been added to menus at nearly 4,000 restaurants, hotels and college dining halls. Next month, it plans to enter all TGI Fridays restaurants, which will integrate the vegan patty into their Burger Bar.

Traditional meat sales have been facing competition due to growing concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of intensive factory farming. Health concerns are playing a factor too. And it’s not just Beyond Meat. Companies like MorningStar Farms are driving the animal-free market deeper into our food system by leveraging the network of its parent company Kellogg.

According to a recent article published on the Wall Street Journal, U.S. retail-store sales of products using meat substitutes climbed 16% to $700 million in 2016 and projects that meat substitutes, including frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable products, will reach $863 million in annual U.S. sales by 2021. This still pales in comparison to traditional meat sales, so they have a long way to go before they’re competing on a global scale. However, given the pace at which the plant-based industry is growing, that might happen a lot soon than anyone could have predicted.

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