Major meat corporation Tyson Foods is planning to join the alternative meat industry with two new products launching this year. Nuggets and burgers made of pea protein will hit grocery stores in the summer and fall, and more products are in development. With billions of dollars in profits and more factories than any alternative meat competitor, Tyson could potentially disrupt and dominate the growing market.
In response to rising concerns about the environmental and ethical impacts of the meat industry, more people are seeking alternative or plant-based protein sources. The so-called ‘alternative meat‘ industry is predicted to grow by 78 percent in the next four years, according to one report. By 2023, the industry is expected to be worth $2.5 billion in the U.S. and up to $23 billion globally. Companies like Impossible Foods have a number of products in stores and restaurants around the world.
Despite dominating the animal-based meat industry and pushing to prohibit plant-based companies from using the term “meat,” Tyson executives saw a huge opportunity to invest in the growing industry. In 2016, Tyson owned 5 percent of Beyond Meat, and this year it is releasing its own products under brand name Raised and Rooted. Tyson’s alternative nuggets are made from peas, eggs, flaxseed, bamboo fiber and other plant-based ingredients. The company is also experimenting with sausages and meatballs that contain less meat products and mix in alternative proteins such as chickpeas and quinoa.
“It became apparent we had the capability not only to compete but to lead in this space,” said Justin Whitmore, lead for Tyson’s alternative protein brand.
Based on Tyson’s size and profits, many are fearful it will take over the industry. Nestle and Perdue also announced that they will be launching plant-based proteins in the near future, and they are in a position to be potential challengers to Tyson, given their large-scale operations and profit margins.
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