The new branding will ensure Field Trip stands out on shelf, co-founder Scott Fiesinger told FoodNavigator-USA, noting that when it first introduced its brown paper packaging, it “was unique and stood apart from competitors,” but has since become a victim of its own success as new entrants started taking design cues from the brand.
“It immediately became obvious to us that our look and feel was no longer our look and feel, but rather much more ubiquitous,” said Fiesinger, who says the edgy new look (developed by ad/design agency Moxie Sozo) catapults Field Trip Jerky right back to the cutting edge of food packaging design.
“Our goals were to be unlike any other package on the shelf, to provide a sense of discovery and above all else easily convey the great product packaged inside… While drastic in comparison to our previous design, it really is the next iteration and evolution of our brand.”
Being in 12,000 Starbucks stores gets you noticed
Field Trip - which was launched in 2010 by Fiesinger (the operations guy), Tom Donigan (an ex-attorney who handles marketing), and Matt Levey (the financial wizard) - is now in 30,000+ retail locations from Stop & Shop, Target, Sprouts and CVS to Starbucks, notched up revenue growth of 250% in 2015, and expects to do the same again in 2016 as it continues to pick up new accounts.
“Over the past 90 days we have gone chain wide with BJ's, Sheetz, Stop & Shop, and got into around 400 CVS stores," said Fiesinger. "We’re also in 12,000 Starbucks stores”
It has also struck deals with a group of beverage industry distributors in the northeast, notably Big Geyser, which was instrumental in the growth of Vitaminwater and Smartwater but more recently has helped snacking companies such as Deep River Snacks boost their reach:
“This past quarter we have launched with Big Geyser, LoBo, Atlas Distributing, Valley Distributing, and CDRC Scranton. We are also launching with several other DSD distributors over the next 90 days, which is similar to how Deep River snacks expedited the expansion of their distribution. We also work with national distributors such as UNFI and KeHE.”
Its latest capital raise of “between $3m and $5m” was led by Benvolio Group and Burch Creative Capital, and will also help fund its expansion plans, he said.
“We started with very limited financing – [a cool $11,000 to be precise] we didn’t raise any [outside] capital until 2015, whereas the financial infusions into KRAVE [which hit the market shortly before Field Trip] probably helped propel them into the market faster. Now, I’d say we are competing for that second or third place in the [craft jerky] market, especially following the deal with Starbucks.”
The category is going from three feet to five feet
So how are retailers viewing the meat snacks category, and is all the excitement driven by the success of brands such as KRAVE and EPIC (which were acquired by Hershey and General Mills respectively) warranted or could posh jerky prove to be a fad?
It’s hard to say where the category will be in 5-10 years, but right now, retailers across every channel are still allocating more space to it, said Fiesinger, who previously worked with performance cars (more specifically “developing ultralight single-piece forged alloy and magnesium race wheel applications for Lamborghini and Porsche Cup track cars,”) before pivoting headlong into meat snacks.
“The category is going from three feet to five feet; we’re getting greater acceptance in the c-store market as well as they implement healthy snack sets, which is great because you can get really high turns in this channel.”
New players are still entering the jerky market meanwhile, which Fiesinger reckons is good news, despite the extra competition: “I’m actually kind of surprised to see how many people are still entering the category, but I think it’s a good sign.”
While the ‘craft’ segment of the US meat snacks category grew an impressive 26% vs a still-respectable 8% for mainstream brands in the year to Feb 20, 2016 (Nielsen data, all outlets combined plus c-stores), Field Trip notched up growth of 250% over this period driven by significant distribution gains as well as good velocity in existing accounts, says co-founder Scott Fiesinger.
Despite the plethora of gourmet jerky brands now boasting fancy flavors and clean labels (no nitrates/nitrates, MSG, gluten, corn-syrup etc), however, Field Trip continues to lead the pack on a nutritional front, he claimed.
“A lot of brands in the ‘natural’ jerky set add water to increase the net weight, but they have more sugar and sodium and less protein. When we first launched, you’d see brands with 550-1,100mg of sodium and there was really a paradigm shift led by brands like ours that saw everyone come down to more like 300-400mg. But our beef teriyaki is only 125mg.
"I’m not going to say it’s definitely the lowest on the market, but I’ve not yet seen any jerky with a lower sodium content that still has a 12-month shelf life.
“We also don’t use things like celery juices or powders [which naturally contain nitrates and nitrites – which help preserve meat]. If you are adding more water and sugar to increase the net weight – which many brands do as a cost-saving measure - you’re going to need to use preservatives of some kind, but we don't.”
Could Field Trip be wooed by Big Food?
So could we see Field Trip get into bed with a big CPG company, as KRAVE and EPIC have done?
The co-founders have been approached by suitors, said Fiesinger, but they are in no rush to sell. “We’ve had talks, but we have always said we are not creating a brand only to sell it, but if the right opportunity presents itself we’ll obviously consider it.”