- Memphis Meats/Facebook
- Tyson Foods announced on Monday that it has invested in Memphis Meats, a startup that makes cultured meat.
- Past investors have included Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and the food and agricultural giant Cargill.
- Proponents of plant-based and lab-grown meat say that they are environmentally -friendly alternatives to traditional meat.
- The meatless protein industry is expected to grow globally, despite the fact that meat consumption may hit an all-time high this year in the United States.
Tyson Foods – one of the largest meat producers in the world – is looking beyond the farm for chicken and beef.
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.
It will join Memphis Meats’ list of prominent backers, including Bill Gates, the food giant Cargill, and Richard Branson.
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.
This isn’t the first time that Tyson has thrown support behind meat alternatives. In 2016, the company bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, a company that makes plant-based burgers, chicken, and sausage.
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.