Just over a year ago, erstwhile candy company Hershey acquired KRAVE Jerky. Since that shakeup, the meat snacks industry has been in full gear, with companies racing to be the next big breakout. Even the purchase of Epic by General Mills a few months later didn’t discourage new competition. Rather than seeing a slowdown, in fact, the category has continued to grow with new innovations, new brands and lots of investments. While the meat may be, the category itself is far from dried up. In fact, it’s still smoking.
Just this week, Sunrise Strategic Partners (which was founded in part by Boulder Brands’ former CEO Steve Hughes) announced that it had made a minority investment in snack brand Perky Jerky. Terms of the deal were not revealed.
The road to success for Perky Jerky has been, well, jerky. Originally started in 2009 as a caffeinated jerky product, due to FDA pressure, the brand first lowered the levels of caffeine-containing guarana in its product, and then removed the ingredient entirely. Last year Forbes pegged the company’s 2015 sales at around $15 million. This number falls right in the sweet spot for Sunrise, which has stated that it typically invests in companies with $10-$20 million of run rate revenue.
Additionally, in early March, just a few weeks after launching it’s own line of grass-fed beef jerky under the brand Lorissa’s Kitchen, meat snack company Jack Link’s Protein Snacks announced it had acquired Grass Run Farms.
Grass Run Farms is a collaboration of American family farms dedicated to producing 100 percent grass-fed beef snacks and fresh meat. The acquisition will not only supply Jack Link’s with more raw ingredients for Lorissa’s Kitchen, but also will give the company a second natural line under the Grass Farm’s own consumer offerings. The line includes jerky, beef sticks, beef bites and summer sausages.
At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, while plant-based proteins and pulse inspired products may have gotten much of the buzz, there were even more new meat based products to be seen. The New Primal announced their new snack-sized kids meat sticks, Epic Provisions launched a wild-game line of meat bars in salmon, venison and boar, and brands such as Tanka and Dick Stevens released new jerky trail mixes.
Determined to go to the source, Project NOSH sat down new KRAVE General Manager Shane Chambers, who assumed the leadership role as KRAVE founder Jon Sebastiani departed the company. Please watch the video below to see what the grandfather of this new-wave of jerky excitement has planned for 2016 and why they think the meat snack industry has resonated with consumers.