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What does the Tyson investment in Beyond Meat really mean?

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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.

If you want to change the paradigm for animals, then go vegan and educate others to do the same.

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0 Comments
  • Kevin

    You’re spinning this story in a way that doesn’t favor animals. Let’s not take our eye off the ball.

    • Amanda Spring

      I’m afraid celebrating some chump change thrown at a meat-alternative co. from the largest chicken exploiting company is indeed “taking our eye off the ball.”

      Vegans should promote veganism, NOT corporate strategies. When our number gets larger corporate exploiters will feel the threat of losing $ if they stick to selling only animal bodies.

  • Matthew S

    This is a great perspective.

    The article detailed that capitalism is a problem, not only for non-human animals, but for human animals and the planet.

    The question is, how much money does Tyson’s put towards spinning veganism as negative? So if they invest $2.5 million dollars in a gamble, but then spend another $10 million to brainwash us with meat products and to make vegans look bad in Hollywood, is it worth it? Why not take $12.5 Million to put into their brainwashing campaigns?

    The moral of the story is perhaps we will see less money being invested in the propaganda which adds up to a larger amount than the estimated $2.5 million. (Hopefully)

    Needless to say, what are we to do? Give us direction as consumers and vegans how we should continue to advocate for a better world? Do we buy Beyond meat or not?

    Personally I stay away from processed foods.

    • Emilia Leese

      Matthew, educate yourself. Educate others. Read and think critically. That is the direction to go into and that is the best thing you can do as a vegan. From there, you can make your own decisions as to products. I don’t use a lot of processed foods, but sometimes I like to. Sometimes I shop in a supermarket where non-vegan food is sold. Should I boycott supermarkets? Sometimes, that’s just not possible. I buy fruits and vegetables from two local shops that only sell fruits and vegetables. The owners are not vegan. Should I boycott them? Where will I then get my fruits and vegetables? Bottom line is that all money is “dirty”. All we can do is make better choices as consumers and we have to determine what those choices are based upon critical thinking (go back to educate yourself and educate others). As for capitalism, my piece doesn’t say that it is a problem. It’s no more a problem than any other economic system, certainly not in terms of animals. All I’m saying is that we live in a capitalist system and I hope to show people how it works and what things mean within that framework. Imagine this though, if we educated enough people to go vegan (and only by educating them to go vegan will this work – not some baby steps, reduction nonsense), then they would choose not to buy animal products. All those people not choosing animal products would drive down demand. Tyson and other animal foods producers would feel it where it hurts – in the bottom line. If that then means that Beyond Meat becomes more of a successful business than Tyson expected, then that’s the way it goes in a capitalist system. But bottom line, it is the changing people’s minds by educating them about veganism that will really change things for animals.

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