Cargill Pivots Away From Cattle Toward Plant-Based Protein

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Cargill Pivots Toward Plant-Based Protein

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In another sign that plants are the future of protein, Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. announced it’s selling off its last two remaining cattle feed yards in order to redirect capital to other areas of focus including plant protein.

The two Colorado and Kansas feed yards have been sold to Green Plains, an Omaha-based ethanol producer.

Cargill, which sold off its entire pork business to JBS USA Pork two years ago for $1.45 billion, is the world’s largest producer of beef products and shows no immediate signs of decreasing its beef processing business, but according to a company spokesman, the company is shifting toward explorations in plant-based proteins as well as fish and insects.

The move puts Cargill in alignment with Tyson Foods, the world’s largest producer of beef, pork, and poultry products, which recently announced a five percent stake in Beyond Meat, the Southern California startup making plant-based meat and chicken products. Tyson also recently established a $150 million fund for protein innovations and other sustainable food systems.

“We are committed to being the leading protein provider that nourishes people, animals and the planet in a safe, responsible and sustainable way while exceeding the expectations of our customers,” John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based protein business operations and supply chain, said in a company-issued statement.

“We have great positive growth momentum and are confident it will continue to accelerate as we continue to help our customers’ and suppliers’ businesses, communities and colleagues thrive.”

Despite taking steps toward developing more progressive and sustainable protein sources, Cargill is still one of the four large beef producers in the nation. Collectively, the four – Cargill, Tyson, JBS, and National Beef Packing Co. -- control more than 70 percent of the U.S. beef market.

The company has also been targeted over its palm oil production and the subsequent deforestation, as well as deforestation in South American countries like Paraguay, where beef production (and crops grown for cattle) have removed huge swaths of rainforest despite promises by the company that would not happen.

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