Speaking to Fox Business News, Tom Hayes, CEO of Tyson Foods, said he believed the growth of plant-based protein was ahead of animal-based, and wasn’t going to stop any time soon.
“If you take a look at the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] stats, protein consumption is growing around the world – and it continues to grow. It’s not just hot in the US – it’s hot everywhere, people want protein. So whether it’s animal-based protein or plant-based protein, they have an appetite for it. At this point, plant-based protein is growing almost a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction.”
In October of last year, Tyson Foods acquired a 5% stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat. At the time, Tyson Foods’ executive vice-president of strategy and new ventures & president of foodservice Monica McGurk said: “We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market. It meets our desire to offer consumers choices and to consider how we can serve an ever-growing and diverse global population, while remaining focused on our core prepared foods and animal protein businesses.”
This, combined with the company’s $150m venture capital fund for investing in companies specialising in meat substitutes, highlighted the importance it places on plant-based proteins.
Earlier this year, Tyson set out a sustainability programme for the business. Hayes told Fox Business News the company was committed to helping to create a more sustainable food system.
“Our new purpose as a company is to continue to raise expectations for the good big food can do. Big food is often seen as potentially bad, and in order for us to feed … 9 billion [people] we have to get in the game and say, ‘How do we come up with solutions and innovations?’” said Hayes.