KAIYEN MAI, founder, Fusion Jerky: 'I wanted a more modern take on jerky that would appeal to women and children.’
By Elaine Watson
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While Fusion Jerky only started hitting shelves in August 2014, San Francisco-based founder and CEO KaiYen Mai is not new to the jerky business.
Her family founded the largest jerky manufacturing business in Taiwan in the 60s and opened a USDA plant in California in 1980, and Mai has been running the US operation since 2003, which supplies Asian-style meat products to Chinese supermarkets in the US and Canada.
However, after a decade at the helm, she decided the time was right to launch something that would reach a broader consumer base, and developed Fusion Jerky, which is manufactured at a dedicated plant in Nebraska.
“To me Fusion Jerky is about offering the best of both world,” says Mai. “Asian style jerky is tender and moist, but I wanted more natural flavors that would appeal to a mainstream American audience, but not your same old teriyaki and so on.
“I wanted to offer more than just beef, so we use chicken, which is pretty unusual, as well as turkey and pork. People also want no artificial preservatives, no MSG, no nitrites, and a gluten-free product with less sodium."
To date, the retail reaction has been very positive, says Mai, who has secured listings in stores from Bed Bath and Beyond, Food 4 Less, airport duty fee stores, TJ Maxx, FoodMaxx and Cost Plus World Market, to distributors including Unified Grocers, MTC (distributing to 1,500 c-stores), and C&S Wholesale Grocers, primarily in northern California.
Click HERE to read our recent interview with Mai.