“Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit its investment,” the company said in an email, adding it plans to launch its own alternative protein product soon and expects to conduct market testing this summer.
Tyson’s investment arm originally purchased a 5 percent stake in the startup in October 2016, before increasing that to 6.5 percent. Beyond Meat, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, seeks to raise as much as $184 million in an IPO. The company’s plan to sell 8.75 million shares at $19 to $21 each would give it a market value at about $1.2 billion, according to filings.
A Beyond Meat prospectus shows that Tyson paid $15 million for the stake it obtained in the funding round that began in October of 2016, and an additional $8 million in the subsequent round.
Consumers are looking for more plant-based meat alternatives because of concerns about health, animal welfare and the environment. Startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are tapping into that demand by offering beef-like versions of the veggie burger and other meat products. Supermarket sales of meat alternatives surged 19.2 percent to $878 million for the year ended Jan. 5, 2019, according to data from Nielsen.
Beyond Meat is sold in grocery stores nationwide and is also increasingly being featured on restaurant menus. On Thursday, Del Taco Restaurants Inc. will start selling Beyond Meat tacos at its 580 U.S. stores after they passed the taste test with customers.
As Tyson ramps up its in-house veggie burger business, it still has a foot in meat alternative startups, with stakes in cultured meat makers like Jerusalem-based Future Meat Technologies and Memphis Meats, which boasts Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Cargill Inc. as investors.
Regular meat isn’t going away though, with U.S. government data showing per capita beef consumption is growing despite the rising popularity of alternative meat products. Global demand is also rising.