Jason Wright added Americans’ love affair with meat snacks is just starting, but already many are looking for healthier options and innovative platforms like those that Wilde Snacks offers.
“What is so unique about Wilde is we are the first and, to my knowledge, the only meat snack that uses a baking process” instead of smoking or drying, he said.
The result is a softer product that more closely resembles a nutrition bar than a piece of jerky and can easily be blended with on-trend, healthy inclusions such as ancient grains, seeds, fruits and veggies, he said.
“Our mission from day one was to create a nutrition bar that is made from real food and ingredients with recognizable names that you can also see in the bar,” he said.
In that way, he says Wilde’s meat bars stand out from much of the competition in the nutrition bar category, which is dominated by highly processed products made from powdered protein and artificial flavors.
Also, unlike conventional nutrition bars, Wilde’s bars are low in sugar, fat and calories because it uses lean meat as the binder, rather than high calorie syrups, sugars and oats or grains.
For example, the Wilde bars have only 4-5 grams of sugar, 1.5-2.5 grams of fat and only 100 calories per 1.06 ounce serving. Yet, it still packs in the high demand nutrients consumers want, such as 10-11 grams of protein.
Baking also helps keep the fat low because it restricts the company to using only lean cuts, whereas smoked or dehydrated meat tend to use higher fat cuts. For those products, much of that fat will melt off during the cooking process, but it can harden on the outside of smoked or dried meats, creating a tough outer layer, Wright said.
Flow wrappers set product apart, create potential
Baking the meat snacks also allows Wilde to use flow wrappers, rather than vacuum packing the product like many other meat snacks.
The flow wrapped packaging has a more modern feel and helps set Wilde’s meat bars apart from some of the more established meat snack brands that are associated with higher fat, nitrates and sodium and are targeted more towards men.
The packaging further helps the products stand out on crowded shelves because it is brightly colored and has busy, eye-catching patterns unlike other products that tend to favor more minimalistic designs.
For example, one of the company’s new flavors that launched at Expo West – Turkey Cranberry – has a red, yellow and green woven plaid that recalls an autumn tablecloth that might be set at Thanksgiving. The other new flavor, Sweet Thai style with Basil, is wrapped in purple with a repeating diamond pattern.
The other four existing flavors are similarly wrapped in distinctive patterns with the company’s logo in the center and call outs for the type of meat and amount of protein, sugar and calories.
Beyond distinguishing the product on the shelf, the flow wrapped packaging will allow the company to enrobe or layer additional ingredients on top of the bars in the future – an option that is not possible for vacuum packed products, Wright said.
A downside to the flow wrap packaging though is package contains and oxygen absorbing packet that could be accidentally eaten if someone does not fully unwrap the bar or pay attention as they are eating, according to potential consumers who tried the bars.
Meat bar segment expands
As an early pioneer in the relatively new meat bar sub-segment of the larger meat snack category, Wright says the platform has a lot of potential once consumers understand the concept and try the bars.
Indeed, it already is attracting attention of larger players, such as General Mills, which acquired meat bar maker Epic Provisions in January. The deal “validated the category” and likely will encourage others to take it more seriously, Wright said.
Krave Pure Foods, a division of Hershey Co., also recently announced it will introduce meat bars later this summer – further legitimizing the young category.