Tyson Invests In Lab-Grown Protein Startup Memphis Meats

Tyson Foods’ venture capital arm announced Monday that it has secured a minority investment in Memphis Meats, the buzzy startup that grows beef, chicken and duck meat with animal cells and petri dishes, no livestock required. Tyson joins other high-profile investors in Memphis Meats including Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. San Francisco-based Memphis Meats unveiled a meatball grown in a lab in 2016, but has yet to commercialize a product. One big hurdle is the sheer cost of producing the meat – currently runs around $2,400 to produce a single pound of its meat, which is often called “cultured” or “clean.”

 “For the first time, we’re replacing meat with meat – not a meat alternative. That gets Tyson and Cargill enormously excited because they’re in the meat business. There’s the potential to transform feeding the world as we know it,” says Memphis Meats CEO and cofounder Uma Valeti . He first thought about growing meat without animals after his cardiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic in 2005 where he observed a clinical trial that successfully rebuilt damaged heart tissue with stem cells.

Tyson is using its $150 million venture fund to make long-term investments that will help the 82-year-old food company stay relevant and successful in the future. Memphis Meats is trying to figure out a way to increase protein production globally to meet demand from 10 billion global citizens by 2050 without exacerbating limited resources for farmland and livestock. Valeti estimates demand for meat will double in the next 30 years.

“If disruptions take place in the way that food is going to be developed or delivered in protein, in particular, Tyson Foods is going to be there,” Justin Whitmore, head of Tyson Ventures, told Forbes.

Prior to Tyson’s investment, Memphis Meats disclosed that it had raised at least $22 million.

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