When you think of Tyson Foods, you think meat. So it’s understandable you’d think about farms and slaughterhouses. But, increasingly, the meat giant is moving in a direction that could just shake up how we think about protein.
As Tyson Ventures CFO Tom Mastrobuoni recently put it, “We are reshaping Tyson into a modern food company from its traditional roots as a meat business.”
How so? Well, the latest sign of Tyson’s embrace of innovation is its new investment in an Israeli startup called Future Meat Technologies.
Future Meat, rather than raising animals to than slaughter them for food, is working to manufacture technology that will allow fat and muscle cell production from the animal cells themselves. As I discuss in a TEDx talk, we’re not talking here about producing alternatives to animal meat. This is real meat, just divorced from the process of raising whole animals to get it.
Already, Future Meat has managed to reduce the cost of clean meat from around $10,000/kg to $800/kg, with strong hopes to reduce that even further, to ideally less than $20/kg by the year 2020. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s one that could mean a massive change for the meat industry, and Tyson wisely doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to jump in at the ground level. In fact, this is now the second clean meat company Tyson’s invested in. (It’s also invested in plant-based meat alternatives as well.)
Justin Whitmore, Tyson’s executive vice president for corporate strategy, explains that while Tyson continues to take be one of the leading players in the conventional meat industry, they’re also excited to explore new, innovative methods of supplying a growing world with protein.Other investors in this round of fundraising include Neto Group, S2G Ventures, Bits x Bites, and Agrinnovation, all looking to integrate themselves into the food trend.
While it’s still early in the clean meat game, Tyson’s vote of confidence with this new investment is a strong sign that growing real meat without animals is a promising alternative to conventional meat production. Were it to become the norm in Tyson’s business model, it’s hard to overstate just how massive the impact could be for food sustainability and animal welfare alike.