We’re committed to innovating new products that recognize consumers’ changing relationship with food.
Our leadership team is strategically focused on innovation and shaping the future of food. Tyson Foods’ Research and Development (R&D) team is made up of food scientists, chefs, registered dietitians, packaging and processing engineers, and sensory and regulatory experts who conduct scientific testing, prototyping and new product development to deliver new and improved product attributes to our consumers. In FY2019, Tyson Foods invested $97 million in R&D.
Tyson Innovation Lab
Our Innovation Lab is run by an elite team charged with driving faster innovation, new growth and increased speed to market for new products. Its main goal is to generate revenue growth for Tyson Foods by developing disruptive products that push us into new spaces. The Lab also strives to build our innovation capabilities by exploring new paths to market, jumpstarting other innovation initiatives within the company, and partnering with other startups on leading-edge technology and ingredients. The Lab’s framework uses a startup mindset through a unique acceleration phase that enables the team to create and test a product in a six-month window. Our Innovation Lab team is consistently challenged to remain agile and maintain this speed to market so that we can innovate faster than the consumer changes.
The Innovation Lab’s existence is a result of taking a step back and looking at how things could be done differently. In its first two years of existence, the Lab has learned the value of maintaining a fully dedicated, cross-functional team. Investing time building that team has also been critical, enabling a close-knit, high-functioning group of collaborators. The low-risk environment in which the Innovation Lab works has also been an enabler of success; limiting financial, brand and customer relationship risk has allowed the Lab to take chances and explore nontraditional paths to market. Ultimately, the Innovation Lab’s success will be measured not just by what they launch as an internal team, but by how they help Tyson Foods learn and grow.
Reimagining Protein for Everyone
Consumers are changing the way they eat. Flexible diets are on the rise, fueled in part by consumers’ desire for more creativity, flexibility and variety. This includes variety in where their protein comes from, with 75% of consumers saying they are open to diets that include both meat and plant-based proteins. Given growing awareness of protein’s value as an essential nutrient and people’s increased understanding of the connection between food and health, alternative protein is one of the fastest-growing categories in food.
Tyson Foods is ready to meet this demand. In 2019, we set out to reimagine protein by launching Raised & Rooted™ Nuggets made with plants, Raised & Rooted™ Blended Patties made with pea protein and Angus Beef, and Aidells® Whole Blends sausage links made with chicken plus a blend of plant ingredients. We are planning to grow the portfolio in 2020 to include Raised & Rooted™ Blended Steakhouse Patties, Whole Grain Nuggets and Spicy Nuggets. These products are available for retail and foodservice customers, and at the time of launch, made Tyson Foods the largest U.S. meat producer to enter the growing alternative protein segment with its own products.
Ultimately, our goal is to develop alternative protein not as a segment, but rather a capability that cuts across eating occasions, consumer demographics, geographies and brands. Tyson Foods is committed to developing alternative protein products that are more accessible, affordable, delicious and better for you as we bring about a future where plant protein is a staple in global diets. We have the capabilities to do this with our disruptive innovation model and our multidimensional approach to innovation, which includes creating food in flexible forms that fit into busy lifestyles.
Understanding the structure, functional ingredients and taste experience needed to create plant protein products sets Tyson Foods apart, where our R&D capabilities are second to none. This expertise, combined with our deep and long-standing customer relationships, uniquely enables Tyson Foods to meet the growing demand for foods developed with both convenience and conscience.
As part of our corporate commitment to continually innovate, Tyson Ventures makes minority-stake investments in early-stage companies. The $150 million fund invests in promising entrepreneurial food businesses that can benefit from our scale and align with Tyson Foods’ corporate purpose to raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. To date, this group has invested in nine companies, ranging from supply chain technology to plant-based products to cell-based meat research to food safety technologies. Four of those investments have been in alternative protein companies: Myco Technologies, New Wave Foods, Future Meat Technologies, and Memphis Meats.
Tyson Ventures Focus Areas
- Disruptive delivery channels & growing market access
- Innovative, protein-centric products & ingredients
- Emerging brands & categories
- Sustainability improvements to our operations
- Technology-enabled operational enhancements
- Operational & supply chain safety
We made two new investments in 2019, both related to alternative proteins. The first was in New Wave Foods, a San Francisco-based producer of plant-based shellfish products. The company plans to have a shrimp alternative ready for food service operators in 2020. We believe that the market for New Wave’s products will be large. Shrimp is one of the most popular seafoods worldwide, and Tyson Ventures looks forward to learning from this disruptive company about how to meet global demand for all types of protein. Our second investment was in Big Idea Ventures, a new fund focused on alternative protein companies at the seed stage. Tyson Ventures’ commitment will allow us to gain deeper insights into the emerging alternative protein industry both domestically and internationally.