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Meat Giant Tyson Musters Industry in Sustainable-Protein Drive

Laura Yin

(Bloomberg) -- Tyson Foods Inc. is taking on the backlash facing the global meat industry and big agriculture with a move to advance the world of sustainable protein.

Tyson, the biggest U.S. meat company, will pull together industry leaders, academia, NGOs and financial firms this week at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, as it launches a coalition designed to find sustainable solutions to producing protein. It’s the latest move by a meat giant to help scrub the industry’s image as a greenhouse-gas-emitting machine.

From high-profile moves like the Golden Globes going vegan, to the hype surrounding alternative proteins such as Beyond Meat Inc.’s burger, the zeitgeist in some markets is moving toward less meat consumption even as global demand continues to grow. But traditional animal-meat producers are now looking to take the initiative in sustainability after largely being the punching bags of those sounding alarm bells over the industry’s environmental impact.

By some measures, agriculture accounts for more global greenhouse gas emissions than transport, thanks in part to livestock production. To clean up its act, giants like Tyson and Cargill Inc. are promising ambitious reductions in emissions, including in supply chains. Chief sustainability officers are popping up all over meat C-suites, and social media ads are touting beef’s misunderstood health benefits.

Notably, Tyson said it would include leaders from companies of “all forms of protein” for its coalition, meaning that purveyors of plant-based alternatives could be in the mix. And big meat has also joined the alternative protein craze, with Tyson rolling out its Raised & Rooted nuggets made with plants and blended patties in U.S. stores.

“We want to help ensure the responsible production of affordable, nutritious food for generations to come,” Tyson CEO Noel White said in a statement. “We’re introducing this coalition because we know that we cannot achieve this alone.”

(Updates with meat companies joining plant-based protein craze)

--With assistance from Megan Durisin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Yin in Seattle at yyin26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net, Millie Munshi, Catherine Traywick

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