Meat snack segment shows ‘no signs of stopping,’ says Chops Snacks cofounder

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Meat snacks shows no signs of stopping, says Chops Snacks cofounder

Related tags Beef

Despite increasing competition in the meat snacks category, startup and recent graduate of the Chobani incubator Chops Snacks sees significant potential for its soft-chew jerky and future products, according to the co-founder.

“I know when I say beef jerky, a lot of you are thinking, ‘Another beef jerky? There are so many entrants!’”​ Luke Sellers, who cofounded Chop Snacks with Aaron Jones, acknowledged during a demo day at Natural Products Expo West hosted by Chobani. But, he added, “we have one that is truly different. We are the only beef brisket beef jerky that is tender, high quality beef and really just doesn’t compromise on ingredients or flavor.”

He explains that Chops Snacks uses a unique cut and process to make its jerky from thinly sliced USDA Choice and Select brisket so that the moisture is retained and the taste is “the best.”

This is compared to many competitors which, Sellers says, “use meat from old dairy cows that are so old they couldn’t produce milk anymore, so they were rendered to the slaughter house. And yes, while they were alive those many years they did eat grass and they did not get hormones – thus organic grass fed beef. But, it comes from the rear end of an old dairy cow!”

He explained that Chops Snacks wants “to give consumers the best beef possible, so we only source from USA steer and only from USDA Choice Select brisket.”

In addition to the meat, the jerky has a simple and short ingredient deck including brown sugar, black pepper, lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic. As a result, the products are all-natural, MSG-free and have no artificial preservatives, according to the company.

Price sensitive promotions help Chops gain traction

The company also stands apart from many other premium jerkies by offering a product that is price sensitive, Sellers said. “We want to keep our products at an accessible price for everyone.”

This value also is reflected in the company’s go-to-market strategy, which includes “aggressive push promotions eight weeks per year”​ with discounts ranging from 40% to buy-one-get-one free.

“We also have got a lot of direct marketing campaigns online and really a lot of geotargeting for those launches when we do launch in a brick and mortar store,”​ Sellers said.

Sellers believe that these strategies will help the young company, which launched last year, reach upwards of $3.5 million in sales by the end of 2017 and continue to grow on a fast trajectory in the next two years.

Overall market potential

This growth should mirror that of the overall meat snack segment, which Sellers says shows “no signs of stopping.” ​He estimates the current at $2.5 billion with $1 billion in growth in the last five years.

For further support of the company’s and industry’s long-term growth, Sellers pointed to the $300 million acquisition of Krave by Hershey and the acquisition of Epic by General Mills for an undisclosed amount.

Finally, Sellers said that to help fuel the company’s growth, it currently is finishing out an $800,000 seed round with an eye toward securing another $200,000, and it is currently looking for opportunities across channels in natural and conventional grocery.

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