Tyson Foods announced Memphis Meats investment
On Monday, the company announced that its venture capital arm has invested in Memphis Meats, a Silicon Valley startup the grows meat in a lab. Tyson is not disclosing the value of the deal, which will focus on product development. Tyson Foods start now more further the looking beyond the farm for chicken and beef and will join Memphis Meats’ list of prominent backers, including Bill Gates, the food giant Cargill, and Richard Branson.
Memphis Meats is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is developing methods to produce meat from animal cells, which would eliminate the need to breed or slaughter animals. Tyson has already put money into Beyond Meat, a U.S. company known for its plant-based burgers, part of strategic shift for Tyson, which is the country’s largest meat processor.
In February 2016, Memphis Meats said it had produced lab-grown meatballs made by cultivating cow muscle tissue in a sterile environment. In 2017, the startup announced that it created lab-grown chicken and duck as well. The team said it expects to reduce production costs over the next few years, and start offering its products to the public in 2021.
Proponents of food that mimics meat argue that it’s more environmentally friendly than raising traditional livestock. Globally, traditional animal farming accounts for about 18% of greenhouse emissions, uses 47,000 square miles of land annually, and exhausts 70% of the world’s water. Tyson faced controversy in the last few years over allegations of price fixing and chicken abuse, but Tyson CEO Tom Hayes said the company is committed to contributing to a sustainable food system.
The plant-based meat industry is expected to grow globally in coming years, despite the fact that red meat consumption may hit an all-time high this year in the United States.