- Tyson Foods is expanding its plant-based protein line Raised & Rooted into hamburger patties and grounds, bratwurst and Italian sausages, according to a press release.
- The meat processor, known for its store brands such as Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, first introduced the Raised & Rooted brand in 2019. Before the recent expansion, Raised & Rooted's products have largely focused on plant-based chicken nuggets and tenders.
- The plant-based meat space has grown increasingly competitive in recent years as large CPGs and smaller upstarts enter or improve their offerings in the category. After prioritizing beef alternatives, plant-based food makers have moved aggressively into chicken and sausages.
For much of Tyson Foods' 86-year history, the company has been known for its dominant presence in processing millions of pounds of pork, chicken and beef each year. But as plant-based meat has gained acceptance with consumers and sales have soared, the Arkansas-based company has entered the space with its own offering in the Raised & Rooted brand.
Tyson moved into the burgeoning market for plant-based alternatives two years ago with plant-based nuggets made from a blend of pea protein isolate and other plant ingredients, as well as blended burgers made with Angus beef and pea protein isolate. It was also an early investor in Beyond Meat, but sold the stake before it went public. While the Raised & Rooted chicken appears to have been a success, Tyson recently announced it was discontinuing production of the hybrid burger patty.
But that hasn't discouraged Tyson from digging deeper into plant-based meat. In January, the company said it was introducing two sandwiches featuring a plant-based patty to its Jimmy Dean brand. The extensions were the first plant-protein offerings from an existing brand at Tyson.
The expansion of Raised & Rooted into hamburger and sausages continues what has been a measured approach by Tyson to move into what has become a very competitive space. The plant-based protein and meat alternative market is projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion in 2030, according to investment firm UBS.
"The space is competitive because it is growing and food innovation is happening faster than ever before," David Ervin, vice president of marketing for the Raised & Rooted brand, said in an email. "As we continue to see increased demand for plant proteins across forms and dayparts (breakfast, lunch, snacking and dinner) and with more people seeking alternative options, we wanted to meet that with new offerings."
Despite the growth in plant-based meat, Americans purchased a record amount of traditional meat with sales totaling $82.5 billion in 2020, according to IRI data cited by Supermarket News. But food companies like Tyson are cognizant of the fact many consumers move between plant and animal-based proteins, making it vital that they have products in both categories.
With the latest expansion, Tyson will have a broader suite of products for consumers to chose from in plant-based meats. To maintain and more importantly grow its presence, Raised & Rooted needs to have more than one type of meat. Consumers don't always want chicken nuggets, and with the summer grilling season approaching, having hamburgers and bratwurst on the menu will make Raised & Rooted more likely to be picked up on store shelves.
The biggest obstacle for Tyson may be a groundswell of competitors.
Nestlé, the world's largest food company, has the Awesome Burger and Awesome Grounds, and it's doubled down on plant-based chicken with new flavors and products that incorporate its Mindful Chik'n. Conagra Brands has a meaningful presence in the plant-based space with Gardein, and Kellogg's is rapidly growing its MorningStar Farms brand.
Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are no longer pesky upstarts but industry leaders with a portfolio of products that Raised & Rooted be going up against. Beyond Meat is reportedly telling customers it plans to reenter the chicken alternative market this summer.
Tyson is no doubt an expert when it comes to meat and poultry. Now, it's hopeful that insight will help it succeed in another category altogether. With billions of dollars in sales potentially at stake, there will likely be room for many players like Tyson to grab revenue in the plant-based segment.