Tyson Foods’ Invests in Startup Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats the “clean” or alternative meat startup has a mission to eradicate protein that is sourced from livestock.

The company, based in Silicon Valley announced an investment from the type of business it wants to disrupt: Tyson Foods, which is one of the largest meat producers in the world.

Tyson produces close to 20% of beef, chicken and pork in the United States and invested in the startup through the venture capital arm it has. It will join investors like Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, DFJ and Atomico. The deal’s terms were not released but Memphis announced that the funding would go to its research and development and expand the overall Memphis team.

CEO and co-founder of Memphis Meats Uma Valeti has said that he pursued a range of different investors intentionally that represent different parts of the financial and food ecosystem.

In the case of accepting investments from Cargill and Tyson, Valeti said that Memphis would benefit from the deep knowledge they have of meat distribution. He added that they have a real understanding of how to scale up and will help the business to learn a great deal about putting meat on the shelf.

President and CEO of Tyson Tom Hayes said in a blog post on the company’s website that the investment could appear to be counterintuitive, including to some who are inside our own company. However, he explained the world has a ballooning population and the No. 1 thing that consumers say they want in a diet is protein, and companies such as Tyson will need to figure a way to answer the demands and in a sustainable way.

Tyson also invested in Beyond Meat, which attempts to replicate meat taste using plants. Memphis is attempting to create meat through growing it with the use of animal cells.

Hayes wrote that Tyson believes it will take both traditional and innovative approaches to succeed.

At the same time, Valeti believes “cultured” meat, as it is called by the industry will win out eventually. However, for now plant-based, cultured and meat from animals will be side by side, and when all the dust is settled taste will win and price will win as well.

The reception of an investment from Big Food in today’s alternative meat industry represents a twist of sorts, as it has given validation to an industry that is beginning to grow.