Tom Mastrobuoni, Chief Financial Officer of Tyson Ventures (the $150 million capital investment arm of meat giant Tyson Foods) appeared as a panelist during the recent Good Food Conference—a two-day forum hosted by food advocacy group The Good Food Institute for the purpose of advancing discussion about the plant-based and clean-meat industries. During the conference, Mastrobuoni explained the motivation behind Tyson’s recent investments, which include vegan brand Beyond Meat, and clean-meat companies Future Meat Technologies and Memphis Meats. “I’ll go ahead and mention the elephant in the room: Not everyone at the Good Food Conference was happy to see representatives from the largest producer of animal protein in the US, and that’s okay,” Mastrobuoni said in a blog post following the conference. “To thrive and adapt to consumer trends, new industries need competition and, well, a little controversy. But in the end, there’s common ground between us and those who don’t always support our business—the need to feed our growing world population more sustainably.” Mastrobuoni explained that “alternative proteins” (meat made using methods outside of traditional animal agriculture) will play a vital role in feeding the booming world population, which the United Nations predicts will increase by 30 percent, reaching 9.8 billion by 2050. “We don’t have all the answers. Nobody does,” Mastrobuoni said. “But we’re willing to participate in our own disruption by investing in alternative proteins, focusing on long-term sustainability, and working to provide consumers with the products they want.” Prior from stepping down as Tyson’s CEO this month, Tom Hayes explained his position on the burgeoning clean-meat industry—which currently includes 27 companies, some of which plan to debut their flagship products by the end of 2018. “If we can grow meat without an animal,” Hayes said, “why wouldn’t we?”
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