Vegan food sales have skyrocketed in recent times, with an increase of 20 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to data from Nielsen commissioned by the Plant Based Foods Association.
"With an increased growth rate of 20 percent, (in dollar sales) it's clear that the plant-based foods industry is a food industry leader that consumers, food service, and retailers are taking seriously," said the Association.
Vegan food products
According to Tyson President and Chief Executive Noel White, the company is plowing resources into making 'great tasting protein alternatives that are more accessible for everyone'. Speaking about the plant-based food sector compared to meat and poultry, White said it was 'growing rapidly' - adding that vegan products are consumed by a range of people, not just vegans.
"It's not either, it's and. Flexitarian right? That's where the growth is at. There's a growing number of people that want to eat a product that they view as being healthier for them and it may be non-animal protein, it may be a blended protein.
"We have teams of people committed to bringing these products to market quickly. It's an area that we are investing in sizably and we will be in market this calendar year - and maybe sooner than you think."
Tyson has long acknowledged that it has to invest in plant-based protein in order to stay competitive.
The company announced the launch of its Green Street range of plant-based grab-and go bowls last year, with CEO Tom Hayes saying: "Tyson Foods is transforming from a company with a strong heritage in chicken to a modern food company that is challenging the industry status quo.
"Consumers expect more from food companies today, and we’re up for the challenge. We’re combining our size and scale with agility to make food people want to eat. That’s driving our business and helping us deliver top-tier returns for shareholders."
Tyson Meats has already invested in alternative protein - with an undisclosed stake in high-tech vegan company Beyond Meat and Memphis Meats which makes cultured products.