Tyson Foods, the biggest meat processor in the US, is throwing its support behind a company that aims to make veggie burgers indistinguishable from real beef.
The parent company behind Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, and Ball Park Franks announced Monday it’s investing an undisclosed amount for a 5% stake in Beyond Meat as part of an effort to take plant-based “meat” mainstream, the New York Times reports,
Until recently, veggie burgers resembled pan-fried Frisbees more closely than beef.
In May, Beyond Meat made waves when it introduced a plant-based burger that “bleeds” just like real meat. A pulverized beet blend helps the patty’s inside stay moist, pink, and juicy — not too dissimilar from cow’s meat.
Since launch, the Beyond Burger has expanded distribution from one Whole Foods vendor in Boulder, Colorado, to 35 locations across six more states. It retails for $5.99 per case.
The new round of funding from Tyson, an industry leader in chicken, beef, and pork, will provide capital for Beyond Meat to broaden its product portfolio and reach new markets, according to a press release. Beyond Meat has offered meat alternatives like veggie chicken strips and burgers for years now, but the burger has seemed to catch on in the media.
The Beyond Burger looks surprisingly similar to a real beef patty, providing the texture, sizzle, and even the aroma of traditional beef. When it’s dressed up with condiments, you could be fooled into thinking the Beyond Burger is real meat.
The burgers are sold in a case alongside other meats at Whole Foods — not in the frozen foods section, where Morningstar Farms and other veggie burgers are found.
Tyson joins a long list of backers including Bill Gates, VC fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture arm of General Mills, and the Humane Society of the United States. Former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson is on the Beyond Meat board of directors, hinting at the company’s future ambitions in fast food.
“We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market,” Monica McGurk, executive vice president of strategy and new ventures at Tyson, tells the Times. “It means our desire to offer customers choices and to consider how we can serve an ever-growing and diverse global population.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.