In an interview with Feedstuffs, Tom Hayes, the new managing director of meat giant Tyson Foods, spoke about his past investments in plant-based companies and provided insights into the company’s expected future development. He explained why it is so important for Tyson Foods to change public perception of the company, becoming known as a protein producer rather than a meat producer. A sustainable corporate mission statement, the well-being of employees and improved conditions in animal agriculture are issues with which the company’s management will be increasingly concerned in the future.
Meat giant Tyson Foods
One fifth of the meat consumed in the USA comes from Tyson Foods. The meat giant currently employs around 122,000 people and sells 15 billion dollars worth of beef, 11 billion dollars worth of chicken and 5 billion dollars worth of pork each year. In addition, a good half of its distribution is to McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and others.
Under the leadership of new CEO Tom Hayes, the company, which slaughters an estimated 1.8 billion animals a year on factory farms, is now set to revolutionize the global food system. The roadmap for the future is towards sustainability, which Tyson Foods is trying to achieve by setting its own goals. These include, for example, the elimination of antibiotics from all chicken products and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Investments in vegan companies
Hayes believes that he has made a good decision by investing in vegan food companies, and that it is now absolutely necessary. However, he did not take this step out of kindness alone, as his reaasoning shows: “If you can’t beat them, you join them, right?”
No sooner said than done. Since Tom Hayes took office in 2016 and founded Tyson Ventures LLC, the focus on this area has increased significantly. Tyson Ventures LLC is a $150 million venture capital fund investing in emerging brands with the potential to create a sustainable nutrition system through innovative products and technologies. In addition, Tyson Foods is an investor in the Israeli start-up Future Meat Technologies Ltd, which is engaged in the production of clean meat. Tyson Food also owns shares in the vegan meat brand Beyond Meat.
Despite the many criticisms and accusations that Beyond Meat has had to accept as a result of its collaboration with the meat giant, the figures point to a successful and functioning business relationship. Through the collaboration, Tyson Foods has offered Beyond Meat the opportunity to expand the distribution of its products to more than 20,000 US food stores, doubling the turnover of the plant-based food manufacturer.
There was neither enthusiasm nor applause for either of the two companies involved. Hayes was criticized by the meat suppliers, whilst Beyond Meat was condemned for having blood on its hands. However, current developments in the vegan market show that the collaboration is beneficial for both parties. Younger generations in particular stand out due to their reduced meat consumption, and thus are clearly driving the market for vegan alternatives.