- Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes says plant-based proteins are a big part of the food industry’s future, according to Fox Business News.
- Hayes, who took over as CEO in December, said plant-based proteins are growing faster than those from animals. “I think the migration may continue in that direction,” he told the outlet. “It’s hot everywhere, people want protein, so whether it’s animal-based protein or plant-based protein, they have an appetite for it.”
Tyson owns a 5% stake in plant-based protein startup Beyond Meat. It also has a $150 million venture capital fund that invests in companies developing meat substitutes.
Protein-enhanced products from plants are one of the biggest food crazes around, with sales now exceeding $5 billion annually. A survey from Today’s Dietitian revealed 41% of registered dietitians believe plant-based protein consumption is on the rise.
The increase appears to be coming at the expense of beef, bacon and other processed red meats that have traditionally been the go-to source for protein, but are increasingly viewed as less healthy.
For Tyson, a large chicken, pork and beef producer, the company’s investments in Beyond Meat and other meat-substitute developers are not surprising — especially given its willingness to embrace other trends that could cut into its dominance like e-commerce and meal kits. The company has quietly been adapting to the changing food landscape while investing in its core business through new product launches or by modifying existing ones. It announced last month it would eliminate antibiotics from its flagship poultry products.
Plant-based protein manufacturers such as Beyond Meat are rapidly making improvements to existing products to make them taste, look and smell more like meat. While the fad could slow, for now it’s popular among grocery shoppers. Traditional meat players would be wise to proactively dabble in the nascent market and hedge their bets against declining demand for meat.