Country Archer Jerky, a California-based producer of clean-label jerky, meat sticks and meat bars, has raised $10 million from Monogram Capital Partners. This is the company's third investment from Monogram and will go toward expanding production at Country Archer's manufacturing facility in the Los Angeles area, according to Food Business News.
Country Archer uses grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free turkey and pork to produce its jerky and other products, which are sold at Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Sprouts, Target and Costco outlets nationwide, the publication noted.
Meat snacks maker Stryve Biltong received $10 million from Meaningful Partners to help build a production and distribution facility and expand marketing efforts, FoodBev reported. The Texas-based startup makes chicken and turkey bites and beef and turkey sticks, as well as biltong beef products — a South African meat snack thicker than jerky that is marinated in vinegar and spices and air-dried, typically without using sugar.
Since Country Archer is reportedly getting its third capital injection from Monogram Capital Partners in as many years, it's a safe bet the company needed the funding for additional manufacturing capability and that Monogram has confidence in the future of artisan jerky.
"We’re beyond thankful for our partners at Monogram who’ve believed in our mission to change the way people think about meat snacks in the U.S., and make delicious, high-quality options available to everyone," Eugene Kang, CEO and co-founder of Country Archer, told Food Business News.
Country Archer's focus on smaller-batch craft jerky featuring flavors such as teriyaki, mango habanero, hatch chile and others seems to have struck a chord with consumers. According to Meat+Poultry, the brand is the fastest-growing jerky in the natural channel and saw sales jump nearly 140% in the past two years.
For Stryve Biltong, demand is increasing along with the company's retail distribution. According to BEVNet, Stryve products are currently in more than 7,500 stores nationwide, including Walmart, Central Market, Vitamin Shoppe, CVS and GNC. Its competitors include Ayoba-Yo, Brooklyn Biltong, and Made By True Jerky, NOSH reported.
Meat snacks are one of the fastest-growing categories in snack foods today. 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 NOSH. Citing research from IBIS World, NOSH said much of the growth will be from premium, artisanal jerky, such as products labeled organic, grass-fed and produced without antibiotics.
This category caters to growing consumer demand for high-quality protein and intriguing flavors, while providing a quick energy hit for the on-the-go snacker. Millennials in particular are driving the snacking trend and seek natural, less-processed items with lower sodium. But they don't want these products to skimp on the taste and trendy flavors they crave, either — interests that have brought artisanal jerky into the spotlight.
Several major food firms have begun investing in the jerky category to capture some of this buzz, including Hershey, which bought KRAVE in 2015; Conagra, owner of Slim Jim's meat snacks and Duke's meat snacks; General Mills, which acquired EPIC Provisions and its wild game meat snacks in 2016; and Tyson Foods' Golden Island premium jerky brand, which came with its 2014 purchase of Hillshire Brands. Craft-like products such as Perky Jerky, Fusion Jerky, Lawless Jerky and The New Primal are also seeing strong consumer response.
Given the increasing popularity of meat snacks, it's likely more investments and acquisitions will take place in the category as CPG companies look to tap into consumer demand for convenience, portability and better-for-you protein sources. The trend has also inspired plant-based versions of the product, such as mushroom jerky, which could pick up as consumer interest in sustainability and non-meat protein grows.