Tyson Foods plans to start selling plant-based protein. The product will first enter the market “on a fairly limited basis,” Tyson CEO and President Noel White said during an analyst call discussing the company’s second-quarter earnings on Monday.  He added that Tyson plans to roll out its meat substitute “on a much larger scale” this fall.

In 2016, Tyson took a five-percent stake in Beyond Meat, which sells plant-based alternatives to meat.  “Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time was right to exit its investment,” the company said in a statement.  “Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking,” the company said in a statement.  Tyson continues to maintain a minority stake in Memphis Meats, which uses cells, rather than animals, to make meat.

Last year Tom Hayes, then the CEO and president of Tyson Foods, said that “it will take a combination of innovative and traditional approaches” to feed protein to a growing population in a sustainable way.  White who took over for Hayes as CEO in September, reiterated the message. “We have a strategy focused on protein, whether that’s animal protein or plant protein,” White said during a quarterly earnings call in February this year.

On Monday, White also discussed volatility in the animal meat market.  China’s pork industry is taking a huge hit because of African swine fever. Pork production has fallen 10 percent in China this year, according to U.S. government statistics.

“African Swine Fever has the potential to impact the global protein industry on a level that we have never experienced,” White said in a statement on Monday, adding that the fever could prove a benefit to Tyson.  “A worldwide decrease in pork supply would offer significant upside to our pork business, while also lifting the chicken and beef businesses as substitutes,” White added.




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