- Stryve Biltong raised $16.5 million in a funding round led by Meaningful Partners, Pendyne Capital and Murano Group.
- The Texas-based maker of gourmet beef snacks plans to use the newly acquired funds to invest in additional marketing to build awareness of the brand and continue enhancing operations and staff, according to a release.
- "The past year has shown that there is a huge demand for clean protein snacks in the U.S., and we have assembled an experienced team of brand builders to help us shape the future of meat snacks and clean protein snacking with Stryve Biltong," Ted Casey, company co-founder and board chairman, said in a release.
Since launching its biltong snack products in 2017, Stryve said it has seen "explosive growth," building its distribution across all retail channels and increasing its online business. These factors are likely behind the new investment, which is on top of the $10 million the company raised last year to help construct a production and distribution facility.
The expansion of the brand isn't surprising given the recent growth in the space. The meat snacks category is an increasingly popular segment catering 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.
Biltong is a South African meat snack thicker than jerky that is marinated in vinegar and spices and air-dried, typically without using sugar. The product's appeal is increasing as meat snacks compete with potato chips and popcorn as flavorful, indulgent and affordable products. U.S. households spend about $25.81 per year on meat snacks, according to a 2017 report from Nielsen.
Growing meat snack sales have prompted U.S. manufacturers to focus on producing biltong products or add the item to their existing portfolios. Technavio research reported global meat snack sales may reach $9.47 billion by 2021. Nielsen said the U.S. meat snack market is a $2.8 billion category that could see 4.2% annual growth through 2022.
As a result, demand for Stryve's products seem to be 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.
But there is competition from several brands, including Kalahari Biltong, Ayoba-Yo, Brooklyn Biltong and Made By True Jerky, NOSH reported. Kalahari has also raised funds and experienced increasing sales, although not at the level of Stryve has seen. The company closed a seed investment from AccelFoods in October 2017 and said it saw 500% year-over-year growth in 2018.
To gain an advantage over competitors, Stryve is stacking its leadership team with industry veterans. The release noted it added a new CMO, Jaxie Alt, who was previously with Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Peter Rahal, founder of RXBAR, has joined the company's board of directors. The experience both of them bring to the table could help with further marketing of the meat snack in the U.S.
Despite recent successes, Stryve and other biltong makers know they need to continue educating U.S. consumers about the product and its advantages in order to keep the sales momentum going. The companies especially need to differentiate the product from jerky, which is much more familiar to consumers in this country.
Given that two of Stryve's three most recent investors also contributed to the company's funding round last fall, its backers apparently have confidence the firm will be able to hit that goal — along with the others it has set for itself.