Reuters — Tyson Foods said on Wednesday it had sold its 6.5 per cent stake in vegan burger maker Beyond Meat, as the No. 1 U.S. meat processor looks to develop its own line of alternative protein products.
The exit comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between the two companies after Tyson CEO Noel White said in February that the company would develop its own plant-based protein products, Axios reported earlier Wednesday, citing multiple sources.
Tyson’s stake was noticeably absent in Beyond Meat’s amended initial public offering filing on the list of stakeholders who own more than five per cent.
Beyond Meat filed on Monday to raise up to $183.8 million in an IPO, seeking a valuation of up to $1.21 billion (all figures US$).
Based on that valuation, Tyson’s stake would have been worth about $79 million. It was not immediately clear how much Tyson sold its stake for, while the Axios report said there must have been multiple buyers.
“Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit… (Tyson) plans to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman told Reuters.
Beyond Meat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beyond Meat, which provides its plant-based burgers to some fast-food chains including Carl’s Jr. in the U.S. and A+W in Canada, no longer wanted the Tyson Ventures representative in its board meetings, partly over fears that the company might try to interfere with potential mergers and acquisitions, according to the Axios report.
Tyson’s shares fell 1.6 per cent in afternoon trading.
Retailer Walmart said earlier in the day it would create its own an end-to-end supply chain of Angus beef, potentially competing with Tyson.
Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat on Tuesday also announced its Beyond Burgers’ entry into the Canadian retail grocery market will take place by the end of next month.
— Reporting for Reuters by Uday Sampath in Bangalore. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.