USA – Tyson Foods has announced that it has sold its 6.5% stake in Beyond Meat ahead of the anticipated IPO filing that values the Los Angeles-based maker of plant-based meat substitutes at over US$1 billion.

Tyson has confirmed that it has sold its stake in the free-meat company through its venture capital fund Tyson Ventures to an undisclosed buyer.

“Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit its investment,” Tyson said.

“Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking. We wish the leadership of Beyond Meat all the best.”

Beyond Meat is expected to launch the IPO as it looks to grow capabilities in meat alternatives, as demand for plant-based foods rise driven by a resolve to healthy lifestyles.

With the funding, the company expects to invest in manufacturing facilities, as well as expand research and development and sales and marketing capabilities.

Looks to launch own plant-based products

Reports reveal that the tension between the two food companies began long after Tyson Foods unveiled plans to launch a plant-based product of its own, a potential competitor to Beyond Meat.

Tyson has also reiterated on its intention to compete in the alternative space even as companies strive to invest in new and emerging alternative categories.

“Tyson Foods continues to be committed to providing alternative protein as a choice for consumers and recently announced the creation of a new business focused on combining our creativity, scale and resources to make great tasting protein alternatives more accessible for everyone,” Tyson said.

“We plan to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer.”

The company first invested in Beyond Meat in 2016, acquiring 5% stake to gain exposure into the protein segment, which is fast growing.

In 2017, Tyson raised its investment when it led a US$55 million investment round in Beyond Meat which it said at the time would be used to increase production, and further expand its commitment to creating meat from plants.

Alternative proteins and aspects such as animal welfare and traceability have seen Tyson Foods invest in food startups such as MycoTechnology which raised US$30 million in February.