By Tonya Garcia, MarketWatch
Tyson Foods Inc. said Monday it will bring plant-based nuggets from its Raised & Rooted brand to 4,000 stores and make them available for foodservice distribution by the end of September.
Tyson /zigman2/quotes/201117502/composite TSN -2.31% , which is known for animal protein from brands like Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean and Ball Park, has been exploring the possibilities in alternative proteins, recycled snacks, and lab-made meats for some time.
The Raised & Rooted brand nuggets were launched in June, with initial plans to also include “blended” burgers made with a mix of beef and pea protein. The company said at that time that it has also launched sausage and meatballs made with chicken and plant-based ingredients under the Aidells brand.
“This kind of quick start demonstrates the capabilities and scale and national reach of Tyson Foods,” said Noel White, Tyson’s chief executive, on the earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript. The company will eventually roll out these alternative meats internationally, but says domestic distribution is the launch focus right now.
The launch is happening at a time when enthusiasm for plant-based products has hit fever pitch with investors, consumers and food companies.
Beyond Meat Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211617595/composite BYND +0.64% , which sells Beyond Burgers, Beyond Sausage and other plant-based items, has seen its shares soar 163% over the past three months. Beyond Meat went public on May 2.
And Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200947441/composite DNKN -1.17% said in late July that it added a Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich to its New York City menus, an item that would eventually be available nationwide.
According to a Nielsen report, nearly 60% of U.S. consumers think having the right balance of animal and plant foods in their diet is important, with nearly all of the people purchasing meat alternatives also buying animal-based meat. Many people are looking to meat alternatives out of concerns for the environment. Twelve percent of consumers say they would eat lab-grown meat.
“Scale is the real kicker,” Nielsen wrote. “Across the store, meat accounted for $95 billion in sales over the last year, whereas meat alternatives are still shy of crossing the billion dollar mark, coming in at $893 million.”
The FAIRR initiative, a global network of investors that aims to address the environmental, social and governance issues in the protein supply chain, values the alternative protein market at $19.5 billion, and expects it to capture 10% of the global meat market and reach $100 billion in value within the next 15 years.
Conagra Brands Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200394144/composite CAG -4.31% has said that it sees a $30 billion opportunity from its Gardein brand, a brand it acquired that offers products in the plant-based food category.
Tyson made the announcement as it reported earnings that beat expectations before the Monday opening bell. The company also announced that it has received a subpoena from the Justice Department related to allegations of chicken price manipulation.
The stock rose 4.9% to mark a rare splash of green on screens that were bathed in red as trade tensions between the U.S. and China ramped up after China allowed its currency to fall to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Tyson stock has rallied 56.4% for the year to date while the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.16% is up 13.8% for the period.