SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods Inc., has invested in food tech startup Memphis Meats, a leader in cultured meat produced directly from animal cells.
The investment is an example of Tyson Foods’ commitment to explore innovative, new ways of meeting growing global demand for protein, the company said.
While the terms were not disclosed, Tyson Foods investment represents a minority stake in the business. Tyson Foods joins a diverse group of investors in Memphis Meats, which includes industry leaders, top venture investors and mission-driven groups, such as DFJ, Atomico, Cargill, Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing meat, especially since global protein demand has been increasing at a steady rate,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business, but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
“We are excited that Tyson Foods will be joining us in our mission to bring meat to the table in a sustainable, affordable and delicious way,” said Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “Our vision is for the world to eat what it loves, in a way that addresses today’s challenges for the environment, animal welfare and public health. We are accelerating our work and building out a world-class team to make this a reality.”
Memphis Meats expects to use the funds to accelerate product development. The company is currently recruiting to expand its team of chefs, scientists, creative people and business people.
Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, has said, “We know what comes to mind when people think of Tyson Foods — and that’s chicken. But in truth, we’re about chicken and so much more. We’re about sausage and pepperoni, scrambled eggs and convenience snacks, deli turkey and beef jerky. And now, through our Venture Capital Fund, cultured meats and plant-based proteins.”
“Simply put, today’s consumers want more protein,” Hayes added. “Sixty percent of us are actively trying to add more protein to our diet, and when we think about the attributes we want in our food, protein tops the list — outranking all-natural ingredients and vitamins and minerals.”
He also noted that to help meet the nutritional needs of a continually growing global population, Tyson is, “. . . investing in alternative proteins through Beyond Meats and Memphis Meats, giving our growing population more ways to feel good about the protein they’re eating.”
“We’re also stepping up our game on animal proteins by reinvesting millions of dollars in our core businesses and making bold moves that matter to consumers, like raising chicken without antibiotics,” Hayes said. “Consumers are eating more animal protein than ever before, and we’re committed to getting that protein to them.”