Tyson Foods Announces $150 Million VC Fund to Back Food and Agriculture Startups

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Tyson Foods Inc. has announced the formation of a $150 million venture capital fund to help food and agriculture startups. The fund will invest in startups that work to solve problems in the food production industry. Startups that work with food waste and safety, distribution, production and nutrition are the key companies the fund is seeking.

The fund’s investments won’t be limited only to new startups. The fund will also invest in mature companies if they impress Tyson Foods.

The company will invest in technology companies that reduce food waste, sensors that monitor the shelf-life of foods, and even packaging companies. Tyson owns a stake in Beyond Meat, a company that creates plant-based patties that grill and taste juicy like real burgers. The fund will include investments in meat replacement companies, too.

The company’s news release for its investment in Beyond Meat states, “We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market. It meets our desire to offer consumers choices and to consider how we can serve an ever-growing and diverse global population, while remaining focused on our core prepared foods and animal protein businesses.”

Tyson New Ventures LLC will be headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The city is known for its food tech startups and is home to Grubhub.

Mary-Kay James, the former Managing Director of Agriculture, Nutrition & Health investments for DuPont Ventures, will join the new fund and lead the investment team. The strategic move from Tyson Foods allows the company to join the ranks of Kellogg’s and Campbell Soup, two food giants that started their own venture funds to back startups.

The fund will help Tyson’s portfolio companies and other startups connect with experts for research and product testing, too. Tyson will leverage the company’s current relationships with food retailers, farms and restaurants to help funded startups grow.