The meat giant is relaxing on frozen beef and chasing after faux vegan meat instead.
Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Impossible Foods

Tyson, the company synonymous with frozen chicken tenders and ready-to-eat beef, plans to spend 2019 focusing on new vegan proteins to rival other rapidly expanding options, including the Impossible Burger.

According to reports from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Tyson's President and CEO Noel White said the move to plant-based protein alternatives is simply due to rising, unparalleled demand for vegan options.

The company is devoting substantial resources to create "great tasting protein alternatives that are more accessible for everyone," White said during a shareholders meeting earlier this month. He later told the Gazette that the company will produce vegan plant-based meats "in a significant way."

This isn't the first time that Tyson has shared its plans to expand into the plant-based food market: Tom Hayes, a former CEO of Tyson, directed the company to invest in Beyond Meat in October 2016.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?,” Hayes told Feedstuffs, quoted last August when asked about Tyson's investments.

White believes that while the demand for meat products will remain steady, more shoppers are enjoying what's commonly referred to as "flexitarian" diets, and that there's room for success in both categories.

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"There’s a growing number of people that want to eat a product that they view as being healthier for them and it may be non-animal protein, it may be a blended protein," White said.

Tyson Ventures (a corporate branch of the same company) and Kellogg's raised $30 million in investments for MycoProtein, a tech-based food producer that specializes in vegan mushroom-based proteins, Livekindly reports.

The Gazette reports that Tyson is expected to make a formal announcement soon, but executives are saying that plant-based products could soon be sold alongside other Tyson products in the grocery store as soon as this year. If so, it would come at a great time: Nielsen data shows that vegan meat sales are up 23 percent year over year, with Beyond Burger leading the category.