Tyson Foods creates fund to invest in the future of food

by Keith Nunes
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Beyond Meat
Tyson New Ventures' first investment was announced this past October when the company acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat.

SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods, Inc. has introduced a $150 million venture capital fund called Tyson New Ventures L.L.C. The fund will focus on three areas in food and agriculture, including alternative proteins, food waste and food insecurity, and the “internet of food” to promote resource application throughout the food chain, according to the company.

The fund’s first investment was announced this past October when the company acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, El Segundo, Calif., a manufacturer of meat-free burgers, strips, crumbles and single-serve meals. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Monica McGurk, Tyson Foods
Monica McGurk, executive vice-president of strategy and new ventures and president of food service for Tyson Foods

“We intend to collaborate with promising food entrepreneurs who are pioneering new products and technology that are making meaningful changes and improvement to food systems,” said Monica McGurk, executive vice-president of strategy and new ventures and president of food service for Tyson Foods. “We believe we can accelerate the growth of start-ups through our capabilities in such areas as food and culinary research and development, sourcing, insights, customer relationships and distribution. By doing so, we hope to materially advance the state of the U.S. and global food system.” 

Mary Kay James, Tyson Venture Capital Fund
Mary Kay James, vice-president and general manager of Tyson New Ventures

Tyson New Ventures will be based in Chicago and led by Mary Kay James, who has been named vice-president and general manager. Ms. James previously was managing director of DuPont Ventures, was chairperson of the National Venture Capital Association, Corporate Venture Group, and an advisory board member to Global Corporate Venturing.

“This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food, while remaining focused on our core fresh meats, poultry and prepared foods businesses, which are also experiencing tremendous consumer demand and growth,” Ms. McGurk said.

Tyson Foods’ new venture continues a trend that has been developing in the food and beverage market for the past few years. Companies such as General Mills, Inc., the Campbell Soup Co., the Hain Celestial Group and the Coca-Cola Co. has developed funds in an effort to get in on the ground floor of promising new companies and technologies as they seek new avenues for growth.

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