The “significant” but undisclosed amount of the second round capital raise with existing investor Monogram Capital Partners also will help the heritage meat snack company potentially launch a line of organic meat sticks by the end of the year, CEO and co-founder Eugene Kang told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that the company’s motto of “More meat. Less Bull. No Junk.” has been a winning strategy in the natural channel, helping the company surpass Krave as the No. 1 top-selling jerky brand in the natural grocery channel, according to SPINS data.
This combined with the company’s 157% year over year sales growth have helped the company catch the attention of major players in the conventional, convenience and club channels, which Kang said are “a huge portion of the category and, we feel like, is a great white space for us in terms of distribution opportunities.”
Kang said the company is proud of the work it has done in the natural channel, “where we cut our teeth, but now we are looking at being a cross-over brand and going even deeper into club and deeper into convenience.”
He noted the company is wasting no time seizing those opportunities. In July, Country Archer incubated and began shipping to 1,500 7-Eleven stores nationwide a new 100% grass-fed beef stick that is sugar-free and certified paleo, he explained.
“7-Eleven was looking for better-for-you meat sticks, and so we approached them with this idea to be the first zero-sugar meat stick and they carved out a nice set for us called the emerging brands,” Kang said, adding that he hopes the move will provide the launch pad the company needs to expand more broadly into the convenience channel.
In addition to tapping into the highly loyal paleo community with the stick, the new product also provides a nice balance to the company’s existing meat bars, Kang said. He explained that the stick is more approachable to a broader base of consumers as a casual snack, whereas the meat bar is geared more towards health conscious consumers who are more athletic and in-tune with consuming appropriate macro nutrients for their diets.
“The sticks are a common-sense line extension from the meat bars, but we didn’t want to launch just another stick. There are a lot of sticks in the category already. We wanted to have a true point of differentiation, so coming out with certified paleo, zero-sugar, 100% beef product was really critical to us,” he said, adding, “a lot of sticks out there incorporate pork and other meats to drive down costs,” but he didn’t want to do that.
The infusion of funds also will help the company explore offering an organic turkey jerky with a specific retail partner in the fourth quarter of this year, Kang said.
“Organic is not something that has been done from a lot of the big players, but because we are vertically integrated we are in a position to figure out how we can be organic certified with this line, which is something we are pretty excited about,” he said.
He explained that the company’s products already are 60-70% organic, but that it has held off from creating a 100% certified organic product so far because it needed to secure sufficient supply.
“We don’t want to be irresponsible and launch organic items without truly looking at the landscape and supply chain to ensure it can scale with us,” he said. “This is the first item we did our homework on and decided we can scale this one item with this one particular retailer and, depending on the success of this, look at exploring more of our current and future lines as we have room.”
In addition to expanding distribution and its portfolio, Country Archer will use funds from the most recent raise to hire “high octane talent,” particularly in manufacturing and sales to support the expanding production and new launches, Kang said.