Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

11 Jun 2020

Tyson Foods released its 2019 sustainability report entitled “Grow – Deliver – Sustain” where the company outlines its progress across its five focus areas of food, animal welfare, environment, workplace and communities.

Highlights from the report include the launch of the Coalition for Global Protein, an initiative inclusive of the entire protein sector, to identify, incubate and implement solutions for sustainable protein. Tyson Foods also earned a Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) certification for its broiler chicken audit program as well as implemented scored welfare audits in its cattle supply chain. The company is additionally setting water targets with the guidance of the World Resources Institute to evaluate water use across its processing facilities and the locations from which it sources animals. Lastly, Tyson Foods reached its goal to give $50 million in cash or in-kind donations over five years to fight hunger one year ahead of schedule.

Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

The company states that its broader vision is “sustainably feeding the world,” and according to its report, it has made some progress in that direction. In addition to its listed improvements, last year, the U.S.-based poultry giant entered the alternative protein segment with the release of its Raised & Rooted brand of plant protein and blended protein options.

Plant-based protein has transformed into a growth segment with alternative protein sources comprising 2% of the total protein market and worth $939 million, according to SPINS data. Not only is the segment booming, but it is doing so in a way that uses far fewer resources than traditional animal husbandry. Data from Impossible Burger demonstrate that the startup's bioengineered burgers use 96% less land, 87% less water and 89% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional beef from cows.

Tyson’s new Raised & Rooted brand is not, however, entirely plant-based. Its burger patties are a blend of Angus beef and pea protein, an ingredient that has become increasingly popular and difficult to source for plant-based protein options. The chicken nuggets sold under this brand are entirely vegetarian and are made with a blend of pea protein, bamboo fiber, flaxseed and egg white. This in-house product line is only one piece of the puzzle and was rolled out shortly after Tyson Foods sold its 6.52% share in Beyond Meat last April. Since then, the animal protein juggernaut has invested in San Francisco-based New Wave Foods, a maker of plant-based shrimp.

This continued focus on plant-based alternatives indicates that not only is Tyson Foods striving to provide more sustainable offerings to its customers, but that the segment is a lucrative one that is ripe for long term investment even for traditional purveyors of animal-based protein.

None of these investments or launches resulted from the Coalition for Global Protein initiative launched earlier this year. However, this effort is an indication that increasing protein production – either through plant-based sources or animal protein – is at the forefront of Tyson Foods’ strategy.

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