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Meat giant Tyson Foods has invested in food tech startup Memphis Meats – which specializes in clean meat.
The investment by the venture capital arm of Tyson – Tyson Ventures – has been described as an example of ‘Tyson Foods’ commitment to explore innovative, new ways of meeting growing global demand for protein’.
Tyson also owns an undisclosed stake of plant-based tech company Beyond Meat.
Clean meat – also known as lab, bio, or cultured meat – is built using animal cells. It is therefore not vegan, though some vegans choose to support the concept, as it has the potential to reduce the number of animals slaughtered for food.
It is also a more environmentally friendly option than traditional livestock farming.
Memphis Meats – which famously created a ‘meatball’ in 2016 – received $17 million in Series A funding last year.
It expects to have its product in stores by 2021.
While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, a spokesperson said Tyson Foods’ investment represents a minority stake in the business.
They added: “Tyson Foods joins a diverse group of investors in Memphis Meats, which includes industry leaders, top venture investors and mission-driven groups, such as DFJ, Atomico, Cargill, Bill Gates and Richard Branson.”
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Justin Whitmore, Executive Vice President Corporate Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer of Tyson Foods, said: “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.
“We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business, but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
Uma Valeti, M.D., Co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, added: “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.
“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.”
Memphis Meats expects to use the funds to speed up product development.
The company is currently recruiting to expand its team of chefs, scientists, creative people and business people.
Tyson joins a raft of investors including Bill Gates and Richard Branson.