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Tyson invests in plant-based 'meat alternative' company ...products include pea protein burgers and soy chicken strips

Beyond Meat

(NaturalNews) As you may know, the Tyson Food company has long been accused of producing chicken meat that is tainted with growth hormones and antibiotics, not to mention their practice of operating their poultry plants like slave labor camps. But now it seems the company may have finally done something worthwhile – at least when it comes to food production.

MindBodyGreen is reporting that the nation's largest -- by sales -- meat company just purchased a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat in a first-of-its-kind investment.

The California start-up is creating meat-product alternatives like pea protein burgers and soy chicken strips.

The New York Times reported further that Tyson's stake in Beyond Meat is very likely the first time a traditional meat producer has bought into a plant-based food company, according to Michele Simon, an official with the Plant Based Foods Association.

'Game-changing product'

The Times noted that Whole Foods Market believes the product is close enough to the real thing that the organic-centric foods chain has placed one of the start-up's products, the Beyond Burger, next to the meat case in stores.

Monica McGurk, a former executive with Coca-Cola who joined Tyson in the spring as a senior VP in charge of strategy and new ventures, praised the Beyond Burger, describing its quality as "amazing."

"We think it's a game-changing product that gives us exposure to this fast-growing part of the food business," she told the Times.

The terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed. The financing round includes additional investors such as the Humane Society of the United States, which also invested in Beyond Meat earlier this year.

Conventional food makers are scrambling to catch up to the growing trend of more Americans than ever turning to plant-based foods, after years of research showing that red meat and other mass-produced meat products contain harmful chemicals, GMOs and antibiotics.

The Plant Based Food Association told the Times that businesses in the United States – including Beyond Meat, Califia Farms and Heidi Ho – made $4.9 billion in sales in the 12 months prior to June 2016. In addition, plant-based foods grew faster than the food industry generally.

In addition to other investors, the venture capital division of General Mills, 301 Inc., has put money into Beyond Meat, as well as in Kite Hill, a food maker that uses nuts and other plant-based proteins to replace dairy products in cheese and other products.

In 2014, Pinnacle Foods – owner of the Armour canned meats line – purchased the maker of the Gardein line of plant-based meat substitutes, the Times noted.

Trend is moving towards clean, meat-less protein

"The question in my mind with the acquisition is always why they're being done. The most positive view is that this means the meat industry is shifting away from animal meat to plant-based meat, but I don't think we know that's the case yet," said Simon, adding that the purchases could also be aimed at distracting critics from their traditional meat manufacturing business.

Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown, who is also the company's chief executive officer, said he understood that the investments by traditional meat companies like Tyson would draw interest and curious attention, especially among ardent vegans and vegetarians. But he added that he hoped they and others would "see this as part of a deliberate course of action to get out of the penalty box that's the 'alternative' section of the supermarket" and wind up as part of a mainstream consumer discussion.

Research conducted jointly in 2015 by the NPD Group, Midan Marketing and Meatingplace, the latter an industry publication, discovered that 70 percent of meat eaters claimed they used a meat substitute in place of meat protein at least once weekly. Of those surveyed, 22 percent said they were using such replacements much more frequently than a year ago.

So, clearly the trend is moving towards organic, meat-less, plant-based protein foods.




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