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Tyson buys stake in maker of meat substitute

Tyson Foods Inc. has taken a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, a maker of plant-based protein products.

Beyond Meat will use the money to expand its product offerings and distribution, the company said. The El Segundo, California, based company will remain an independent, privately held company, founder and CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement.

“This investment by underscores the growing market for plant protein. I’m pleased to welcome Tyson as an investor and look forward to leveraging this support to broaden availability of plant protein choices to consumers,” Brown said.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

“We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market,” Monica McGurk, Tyson Foods’ executive vice president of foodservice, said in a news release. “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 acquired Chicago-based Hillshire Brands Co. — the maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park hot dogs — in 2014, cementing a spot among the world’s largest food companies. Tyson’s brands include Tyson, Jimmy Dean, Sara Lee and State Fair.

Beyond Meat also has received funding from Bill Gates and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

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