The boss of the world’s largest meat processing company has spoken about how plant-based proteins are becoming increasingly popular a number of times this year.
Tyson President and CEO Tom Hayes has appeared on radio shows and on panels talking about the future of alternative proteins.
Earlier this year, he spoke to Fortune’s Beth Kowitt about the future of ‘alternative proteins’ – as well as why the company has invested in plant-based tech startup Beyond Meat.
Talking about the investment, host Beth Kowitt says: “You have invested in a protein alternative company.
“It seems like that company wants to totally destroy your business.
“So why are you investing in it?”
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Hayes replies: “If you can’t beat em, join em, right?
“It’s not that they want to completely destroy us – the company is Beyond Meat.
“One of the things we believe is that protein is going to continue being in demand.
“And we don’t just think of animal protein. 96 percent of consumers in the US eat animal protein, but any kind of protein.”
Hayes says protein could be ‘vegetable-based or any kind of emerging protein’.
He adds: “For us we want to be mindful of that – we are focused on the consumer – and so we have set up a team that focuses on new technology, new food type like Beyond Meat, or could be sustainability technologies, things that get food waste out of the system.
“So that’s been a big focus for us.
“The first investment has been Beyond Meat but we’re looking for other investments that will being us up the curve in terms of sustainability and production at scale.”
Leonardo DiCaprio has also invested in Beyond Meat
Kowitt asks Hayes how big he thinks the meat-alternative market is going to be.
Hayes says: “It’s small today – consumers are looking for alternatives – but it’s relatively small.
“Animal-based meat is still the most efficient way to deliver protein, plant-based is growing though, and there’s a lot of good work being done.”