Krave has introduced two varieties of plant-based jerky and two flavors of pork rinds. The Texas-based protein snacks maker, owned by Hershey, said the new products will be available on store shelves and online this month.
The plant-based jerky — the brand's first meatless product — contains peas and fava beans and provides 8 grams of protein per serving. It comes in Smoked Chipotle and Korean BBQ flavors, Krave said in a release. The pork rinds are made with hormone-free pork and are available in Chili Lime and Al Pastor Taco varieties.
Jimmy McClain, Krave's brand manager, said in the release that consumers are looking for additional plant-based products for more snacking opportunities. They also are adopting specialized diets such as keto and paleo, he noted, and these new products offer more portable snacks tailored to them. "With the growing number of snacking occasions and evolving nutritional expectations placed on those snacks consumers are dramatically altering the way we think about innovation," McClain said.
This is Krave's first foray into plant-based jerky, and the company is hoping the new item will appeal to flexitarians and those who want more plant-based foods in their diet. That hope also fueled the debut last fall of Kellogg's Leaf Jerky, a soy-based snack containing 80 calories and 11 grams of protein per serving.
Other plant-based jerky products featuring sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, apples and even pineapple have been appearing on store shelves — all marketing themselves as healthier, non-GMO and vegan alternatives to traditional beef jerky.
Krave seems to be taking a different tack by offering both plant-based and meat-based snacks, although the company comes from a foundation in gourmet meat and poultry products. While it sources peas and fava beans for its new jerky, Krave is aiming for a taste and texture similar to its meat items by using the same proprietary production process.
This positioning fits well with the current direction of Hershey, which has been aggressively expanding into snacks outside of its core candy business through M&A. Most recently, it purchased protein bar maker One Brands for $397 million. After the Pennsylvania-based CPG maker acquired Krave in 2015 for about $220 million, the jerky manufacturer began innovating with better-for-you snacks containing protein, dried fruit and quinoa and also a stick with protein, sweet potatoes or whole beans.
It's likely the market will see even more of these plant-based jerky snacks due to the overall push away from conventional animal-sourced products. According to SPINS data commissioned by The Good Food Institute, the U.S. market for plant-based jerky hit $3.9 million for the year ending April 2019.
While plant-based options are growing in popularity, conventional jerky products are not going away anytime soon. Meat snacks are one of the fastest-growing categories in snack foods today because of their high protein content and intriguing flavors — while at the same time providing a quick energy hit for the on-the-go snacker. Sales of jerky topped $1 billion in 2017, and the market is expected to grow 4.2% on an annualized basis through 2022, according to Project NOSH.
Krave's pork rind product could draw a different type of consumer than the plant-based jerky due to its meat-based status. They are more likely to appeal to consumers looking for crunchy snacks without carbs and those who may be flexitarian in their dietary choices.
Since Krave is pitching the pork rind as hormone-free and made from all-natural pork, that combination could dovetail with what The Wall Street Journal last year called a "golden age" of gourmet pork rinds made with premium ingredients such as humanely raised pork and Himalayan pink salt. This debut, along with the plant-based jerky, shows Hershey is cognizant of the trends impacting the broader food space and how it needs to expand Krave's offerings to address more consumer preferences.