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How General Mills scored big on Beyond Meat

Brian Sozzi

Cereal king General Mills (GIS) hit a grand slam home-run with its early investment in the upstart Beyond Meat (BYND).

“We have a really good return on a really small investment, just to put it into perspective,” General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening told Yahoo Finance.

A General Mills spokesperson confirmed it sold its stake in the company at the time of the offering.

General Mills was one of the first outside investors to invest in Beyond Meat back in 2013. The investment fell under General Mills venture capital arm known as 301 Inc. Led by veteran food trend-spotter John Haugen, 301 Inc. invests in upstart food brands such as Beyond Meat. The 301 Inc. team provides the entrepreneurs at these new companies with advice on how to grow, in addition to the injection of capital and access to contacts.

The 301 Inc. portfolio now consists of a dozen or so companies, Harmening said. ranging from an emerging soup company to a fresh take on cottage cheese.

“The portfolio is growing quickly and we have been very pleased,” added Harmening.

In the case of Epic Provisions — a meat snacks business not invested in via 301 Inc. — General Mills invested in the company early on and then bought it out in 2016 for an undisclosed sum.

Ethan Brown, center, CEO of Beyond Meat, attends the Opening Bell ceremony with guests to celebrate the company's IPO at Nasdaq, Thursday, May 2, 2019 in New York. California-based Beyond Meat makes burgers and sausages out of pea protein and other ingredients. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan).

Suffice it to say, Beyond Meat has enjoyed life as a public company, thus far.

Beyond Meat’s stock is up an insane 140% since its May IPO. Investors have wagered Beyond Meat turns a profit amid a barrage of new products in 2020. Optimism that the company will ink a deal with McDonald’s (MCD) soon has also spurred the buying activity.

“Fundamentally you have a business here that is real and that is in the early innings,” former long-time Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “They [Beyond Meat] have sales orders for the next two or three years in the fast-food industry and the grocery industry.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-host of ‘The First Trade’ at Yahoo Finance. Follow Brian Sozzi him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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