Tyson Assembles Team to Focus on Snack Development
SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The largest U.S. meat producer, Tyson Foods Inc. wants to get deeper into the snack game.
In its latest attempt to move beyond traditional chicken products, Tyson has assembled a team of seven employees focused on snacks and product development, whose goal is to develop a new product to put on store shelves within the next six months, according to Bloomberg.
Nielsen data shows that sales of meat snacks have surged nearly 30 percent over the last four years, hitting $2.9 billion last year. As consumers continue to embrace high-protein products as they cut back on sugar, Tyson is looking to capture some of that zeitgeist, the company stated.
"We were looking for a way to deliver faster innovation — new growth, increasing speed," Sally Grimes, Tyson’s president of prepared foods, said in a phone interview with the news outlet.
Tyson is also looking to make snacks by capitalizing on the issue of food waste. The newly assembled snacking team started in January and is developing a protein snack that will utilize ingredients like spent grain from brewers and vegetable pulp from juicers. It named the brand “Yappah” after a concept developed in the Andes where merchants give out extras to use up inventory, the news outlet reported.
These moves mark Tyson’s latest pivot into packaged products. Known mostly for producing poultry, the company has moved beyond its roots recently with the acquisition of sandwich maker AdvancePierre Foods Holdings Inc. last spring for $4 billion, the largest purchase since taking over Hillshire Brands Co. in 2014, according to Bloomberg. The latter deal brought the jerky brand Golden Island to Tyson, which has also used the Hillshire name to launch a line of meat snacks.
Tyson’s relay to packaged products comes as traditional food companies struggle to compete with trendy upstarts, like Chobani and Kind Snacks. Over the last three years, the 10 largest U.S. food companies, including General Mills Inc. and Kellogg Co., have seen a nearly $17-billion loss in revenue as consumers gravitate toward newer brands.
In addition to developing its own snacks, Tyson CEO Tom Hayes said on a Feb. 8 earnings call that the company is on the hunt for deals. He said Tyson wants to be a “modern food company with a diverse portfolio of protein brands.”