Officially launched at the end of July this year (the brand made its debut at Chicago’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in May), Stryve Biltong has secured several national retail accounts including Walmart, CVS, GNC, and The Vitamin Shoppe over the course of a few months.
Demand for meat snacks in general has grown strongly in recent years, with sales increasing 45% in the last five years hitting $2.6bn in 2017, according to Mintel.
“We’re breaking records. For someone in our space and in our category to move this fast is kind of unheard of,” co-founder and former NFL first round draft pick for the Chicago Bears, Gabe Carimi, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Buyers are actively engaged in trying to get this product out there.”
Carimi founded the brand alongside sports nutrition veterans, Ted Casey (founder of dietary supplements brand Dymatize) and Joe Oblas (founder of Prosupps).
What is biltong?
“The biggest question we’re asked is: 'How will we educate the consumer?' Field marketing is the No.1 ploy of this – people have to try it,” Carimi said.
To understand what makes Stryve different from competitor, more familiar formats, such as conventional jerky, the brand is working overtime in field marketing and sampling to expose US consumers to biltong, a dried cured meat recipe
that originates from southern Africa (popular in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia).
The company starts with USDA-graded top round steak trimmed of fat, naturally preserved with vinegar and salt that's left to air dry for three weeks, and sliced “extra thin”, according to the company.
The final product is a snack low in sugar (1 gram), with 36 grams of protein per 2.25-ounce bag, and free from nitrates and MSG.
Stryve Biltong products come in sliced and stick formats in original, zesty garlic, peri-peri, smoked, and teriyaki, all packaged for on-the-go snacking.
While its clean nutrition facts panel is certainly a plus, according to Carimi, taste is king for the brand.
“The #1 philosophy for us is it has to taste good, because if we won’t eat, we’re not going to sell it,” Carimi told us.
“At the end of the day people just care if it tastes better.”
A portion of the $10m cash injection has helped launch its field marketing team that will be put into full force this month passing out samples of Stryve Biltong.
“We’re rapidly growing that program right now,” he said. “This is how RX Bar and Kind Bar did it, it’s about getting out there and pounding the pavement.”
According to Carimi, the brand’s demos have gone over like gangbusters, going through 36 units of product in less than a few hours.
Owning the manufacturing piece of the puzzle
To be a leading brand in the noisy meats snacks category dominated by jerky and sticks, Stryve acquired two USDA-approved biltong production facilities in the US, which will help support its national distribution and consumer demand.
“It’s not like with jerky where’s there’s a thousand different smoke shops you can take your same product to,” Carimi said.
“They were two different companies that were competing against each other and now they’re one big happy family under us. We have manufacturing in two different states and we’re building [a third] one closer to us that’s going to be able to do 10x the volume of both plants combined.”