Tyson Foods launches its take on alternative proteins with new ‘Raised & Rooted’ brand

Earlier today, Tyson Foods announced the launch of its first foray into the meat replacement market with the unveiling of its Raised & Rooted brand.

While the company’s plant-based nuggets present a direct challenge to companies like Beyond Meat, Tyson Foods is playing a different game by introducing consumers to foods that are blended with meat and protein replacements.

So it’s not exactly a direct competitor to Beyond Meat, a former Tyson Foods venture portfolio investment, or Impossible Foods, which are the two current leaders in the growing alterna-beef category.

Rather, it seems to be an attempt to up-sell customers on products with less beef for potentially more money. Tyson did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

For Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, making alternative proteins is less of an optional strategy and more of a necessary response to what could be an existential threat to the traditional meat market in the U.S. and around the world.

By 2040, traditional meat consumption could fall by 33%, according to a recent analysis by the consulting firm AT Kearny.

Chart courtesy of AT Kearny

“All in all, cultured meat and new meat replacement products are going to disrupt the $1,000 billion conventional meat industry with all its supplier companies,” the study’s authors write. “This disruption is supported by a general shift toward consumption of non-meat proteins (for example, legumes and nuts) as a consequence of new lifestyle trends, all aimed at a more sustainable and healthier diet, as well as regulatory measures against conventional meat.”

Tyson has launched its new brand with just these pressures in mind. The company is the first large meat producer to confront the changes that are coming to the market at anything approaching the scale of the challenge.

What remains to be … Read the rest

Zume buys packaging company, with eyes on plant-based plastic alternative

Zume Inc. (they of the robotic pizza) has acquired Southern California-based Pivot, designer of plant-based packaging material. Along with the deal, Zume will be opening a 70,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the area.

Zume notes that it has actually been in the food packaging industry in one form or other since 2016, when it introduced a compostable pizza box made from the fibers of discarded sugar cane. This acquisition finds the company expanding its offering into additional containers, including bowls, plates cups, trays and cutlery.

The startup has set the lofty goal of replacing one billion plastic and styrofoam containers by next year. It’s an admirable target — food packing waste is undeniably out of control, and is likely to only get worse before it gets better.

“Food delivery is upending the food system as we know it, and we believe that the powerful consumer demand signals it generates can be a force creating a more sustainable world,” Zume CEO Alex Garden said in a release tied to the news. Food packaging is a huge part of this equation because it not only provides critical consumption data but it also provides useful information from the farm where its materials are sourced to the final disposal.”

The new manufacturing plant is the first of several in the U.S. in the works from the company.

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India’s Zomato flies drone to deliver food in successful test

Zomato, one of India’s largest food delivery firms, may have figured out a faster way to crawl through dense populated routes: going air with drones.

The company, which has expanded its restaurant listing and booking service to about two-dozen markets in recent years, said today it has successfully tested a payload delivery from a hybrid drone.

The drone carried a payload of 5 kgs (11 pounds) and covered 5 kms (3.1 miles) in 10 mins, said Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato, which aims to deliver food to customers in under 15 minutes some day. The drone hit a peak speed of 80 kmph (49.7 mph). It was a non-commercial delivery.

“Fifteen minutes is only possible if we take the aerial route – roads are not efficient for very fast delivery. While our biker fleet nowadays delivers in 30.5 minutes on an average (which is the fastest in the industry as far as we know), every incremental minute with our fleet becomes harder as it separates our users from their ordered food,” he said.

For Zomato, the drone test is more than a gimmick. The delivery firm, heavily backed by Ant Financial and Delivery Hero, acquired local drone startup TechEagle last year. Goyal said the company has finalized the design of its drone, which is lightweight and hosts an array of sensors to detect and avoid static and dynamic objects in its journey.

“Although being fully automated, each drone is currently being tested with (remote) pilot supervision to ensure … Read the rest

Razer just launched an energy drink for gamers

Last week it was Xbox body spray. Today it’s a Razer energy drink. E3 is officially upon us, and it’s time for all of the shamless product tie-ins. Though before you go passing judgement on Respawn, note that this is “no ordinary beverage.” No, in a world of entirely too many energy drinks, this one is “for gamers by gamers.”

The company notes, fittingly, that all of this started as a 2010 April Fool’s Day prank, then known as the less palatable “Project Venom.” This however, is very much a real thing — in fact, Respawn is now a standalone spin-off brand from Razer.

The powdered drink has caffeine, green tea extract and B vitamins, made to be mixed in a metal branded shaker (sold separately). “Now you are ready to Respawn,” the company writes somewhat troublingly in the official press release. “Effects should be felt soon after consumption.”

At the very least, the “Mental performance” isn’t loaded with sugar, unlike the vast majority of energy drinks on the market. In fact, it contains zero grams of the stuff, per Razer. The stuff is apparently specially formulated for gamers and esports athletes for periods of long focus and mental stamina… though Razer assures us that other people like content creators and video editors can use it, too.

For everyone else, there’s always coffee.

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Everyone loves pizza, including VCs

Sometimes a person (I’m not naming names here) tires of staring at startup funding data, and her hungry mind wanders to pizza.

But ordering a pizza in real life isn’t always the best choice for such people/reporters. So instead, we’ll pivot to the next best (not really) thing: Looking at what startup investors are doing vis-à-vis the pizza industry.

Turns out, VCs and growth investors are finding lots of ways to toss money at the space. A query of Crunchbase data rolled out more than 50 companies funded in the past couple of years that mention pizza in their business descriptions. In the chart below, we slice into 10 of the most heavily funded and intriguing pizza-preneurs.

Taken together, what does this assimilation of funding data portend about the future of pizza? We’re not experts in much but consuming the stuff, but nonetheless, a few trends stand out. We outline them below.

Convenience versus quality

Many top-funded startups appear to be tackling what’s long been the Achilles heel of the pizza-industrial complex: The inverse correlation between convenience and quality.

It is a persistent conundrum. You can have pizza right away that costs very little, but it tastes like microwaved cardboard. Or you can pay the going rate and wait for a fresh pie, but that involves…well, paying and waiting.

Of course, there are all manner of variations in-between: the upscale frozen pizza, the merely adequate chain pizza, the quick, greasy slice — the list goes on. Consumers seemingly have no shortage of options. And yet we long for more.

The most heavily funded pizza startups appear to target a … Read the rest