Tyson Foods Inc. said this week that it will bring plant-based nuggets from its Raised & Rooted brand to 4,000 stores and make them available for foodservice distribution.

Tyson Foods, which is known for animal protein brands like Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean, and Ball Park, has been exploring the possibilities in alternative proteins, snacks, and lab-made meats for some time.

The Raised & Rooted brand nuggets were launched in June, with initial plans to also include “blended” burgers made with a mix of Angus beef and plant protein.  The company said at that time that it has also launched sausage and meatballs made with chicken and plant-based ingredients under the Aidells brand.

“This kind of quick start demonstrates the capabilities and scale and national reach of Tyson Foods,” said Noel White, Tyson’s chief executive, on an earnings call.  The company will eventually roll out these alternative meats internationally, but says domestic distribution is the launch focus right now.

“Alternative protein projections remain strong, and we’re well-positioned to lead in this growing space,” said Noel White on the earnings call.

Analysts have raised the possibility that Beyond Meat, the current leader in plant-based meat, could be overtaken by Tyson and other large food companies that have been increasingly making a push in meat alternatives.

According to a Nielsen report, nearly 60 percent of U.S. consumers think having the right balance of animal and plant foods in their diet is important, with nearly all of the people purchasing meat alternatives are also buying animal-based meat.  Many people are looking to meat alternatives out of concerns for the environment.  Twelve percent of consumers say they would eat lab-grown meat.