Good morning, Veganverse! You have not woken up in a parallel universe. The world has not gone vegan overnight. However, one would think so in seeing our effusive Instagrams, Tweets and Facebook updates praising Tyson Foods’ investment in vegan start up, Beyond Meat.
Well, rub the sleep out of your eyes and rest assured, you are still living in a capitalist, non-vegan world. The investment does not mean that Tyson is afraid of vegan-power or that it sees a threat to its animal flesh market. Quite the contrary, Tyson has seen a great opportunity to make money.
Tyson is a massive company. Their sales were $41 billion in 2015 and they have a market cap of approximately $29 billion. If you fancy learning all about Tyson, then look at their publicly filed documents.
Beyond Meat is a small, privately held company. Finding out what they are “worth” is slightly more difficult, to impossible, because they are not required to file anything publicly. However, I have read that their last round of fundraising in 2015 was for $15 million. Beyond Meat has often been in the news, their product distribution in the U.S. has grown tremendously (well, to go from zero to anything above that is going to be tremendous growth) and has further space for market penetration. They make an interesting investment for Tyson.
The Tyson Foods investment amounts to 5% of Beyond Meat. Let us just assume that Beyond Meat is worth $50 million (this is a wild guess). Five per cent of that is $2.5 million…. Now, go back and consider the figures. Tyson has put a teeny tiny bet on a potential winner. They have diversified their investment portfolio and that is something that companies like to do, especially when it comes at such a small price. Compare the Beyond Meat investment to Tyson’s whopping $7.7 billion merger with Hillshire Brands in 2014 (this was the meat industry’s biggest deal). Today, Tyson has nothing to fear from vegans or Beyond Meat.
The consumer market for plant foods is growing. But keep in mind that expanding consumer choices is exactly what underpins our entire capitalist system. Having many products and having many people buy those products is the reason for the existence for capitalism. The existence of plant products is not evidence that fewer animals are dying or that people are shifting their thinking about using and consuming animals (if you do not believe me, please read this). The existence of these products is merely evidence of capitalism working just fine.