Former McDonald's c.e.o. invests in plant-based burgers

by Monica Watrous
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Beyond Meat plant-based Beyond Burger
Beyond Meat makes the plant-based Beyond Burger and other meat-free strips, crumbles and single-serve meals.
 

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. — Beyond Meat, the maker of the plant-based Beyond Burger, has closed a $55 million fundraising round led by Cleveland Avenue, L.L.C., a venture capital firm founded by former McDonald’s Corp. chief executive officer Don Thompson.

Don Thompson, former McDonald's c.e.o.
Don Thompson, former c.e.o. of McDonald's

“We see Beyond Meat as a strategic and compelling consumer-focused investment,” Mr. Thompson said. “Customer response to Beyond Meat’s great-tasting products has driven its growth, and we’re excited about our investment as the brand continues to innovate for the future.”

In this latest fundraising initiative, Tyson Foods, Inc. through its venture capital fund made an additional investment in Beyond Meat, slightly increasing its ownership stake from the 5% established a year ago.

Justin Whitmore, Tyson Foods
Justin Whitmore, executive vice-president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods

“Global demand for all protein remains high and we’re passionate about meeting that demand sustainably,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice-president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “Our investment in Beyond Meat provides another fantastic alternative for consumers as we strive to sustainably feed the world.”

Beyond Meat plans to use the funding to more than triple its production footprint, support research and development and expand sales and distribution. Introduced last year, the Beyond Burger looks, cooks and tastes like ground beef but is made from plants, with no bioengineered ingredients, soy or gluten. The product debuted last year and is now sold in more than 5,000 stores and served in nearly 4,000 restaurants, hotels and food service outlets.

 

Other investors in Beyond Meat include Bill Gates, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea.

Tyson Foods introduced Tyson New Ventures L.L.C. in December 2016 to invest in emerging food businesses with innovative products or technology. Beyond Meat marked the venture capital fund's first investment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“This investment reinforces our focus on protein and enables us to support Beyond Meat’s efforts to produce new, leading edge products,” Mr. Whitmore said. "What we’re most excited about is that we can do all of this while continuing to provide the great tasting, high quality food that is the hallmark of our company.” 
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