USA, Springdale, Ark. Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, Inc., has invested in Memphis Meats, a manufacturer of cultured meat produced directly from animal cells. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed, but Tyson said its investment represents a minority stake in the business.
“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 of 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.”
Founded by three scientists, Memphis Meats has produced beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without the need to breed or slaughter animals. The company plans to use the funds to accelerate product development and expand its team of chefs and scientists.
“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, M.D., co-founder and chief executive officer 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.”
The investment in Memphis Meats is Tyson’s second in the alternative protein market. In October 2016, Tyson acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, maker of meat-free burgers, strips, crumbles and single-serve meals, and in December 2017, the company made an additional investment in Beyond Meat.
“We know what comes to mind when people think of Tyson Foods – and that’s chicken,” said Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “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. All of those foods have one common link: protein.”
Tyson Foods is the latest large industry player to invest in Memphis Meats. In August 2017, Cargill, Bill Gates and Richard Branson were among investors backing the company in a $17 mill. Series A fundraising round.