Sometimes entrepreneurs start companies due to a confluence of factors: Prevail Jerky Founder and CEO Glen Kohn, for instance, was inspired to start his company after finding it difficult to find food that met the dietary needs of his family, and he happened to have a hobby of smoking and curing meats. (He made bacon, sausage, smoked briskets and pork shoulders.) And, while some brands were so-called “clean” enough for the family, the products lacked the flavor or texture they liked.
Kohn started making the jerky as a hobby and would experiment with different flavors. He brought the extra leftovers to work, and Kohn says that his friends were blown away by the quality and flavor of his creation. (They weren’t as focused on the health aspect, he notes). Kohn ended up turning the product into a business, Prevail Jerky. The company sees the product as “a super clean super healthy protein snack that doesn’t lack on flavor, doesn’t lack on texture,” Kohn said.
Kohn also noted the company felt that consumers shouldn’t have to sacrifice texture or flavor for a “clean” product: The company’s products, which come in four distinct flavors from original to spicy and umami as well as lemongrass, are paleo, keto and gluten-free certified. Kohn sees the product “as a really fun unique form of protein that we don’t think exists on the market right now.” And some of the company’s differentiators include the textures and the flavors.
Product and eCommerce Innovation
Kohn said the company receives a lot of feedback from people who are surprised by the flavor and texture of his product once they’ve tried it. Traditional jerky is firm and has a rip-and-tear style, Kohn says. As a result, consumers have to put in their mouths for a while until the product breaks down. He claims, however, that his company’s jerky is super tender. The beef itself is grass-fed and finished, and the company sources it from New Zealand family farms.
The company makes products that not only have flavors that are unique to the market, Kohn says, but are distinctive from each other to cater to different palates. Kohn says that one ingredient the company uses, matcha tea, “raises an eyebrow” and piques interest with consumers. Kohn said that he felt like Asian flavors were on trend after research, especially with millennial crowds and those in the demographic looking for out-of-the-box flavor profiles. “They want something different,” Kohn said.
When it comes to eCommerce, the company launched about four months ago and initially started with a website for online sales. Through the site, customers can pay with PayPal, Google Pay and card payments. The company uses Shopify for its front end, which Kohn said the company chose because it was very user-friendly. It then emerged on Amazon, where it is trying to build a presence. (According to a recent check of Amazon’s site, the products are available for Prime delivery.) The company is also focusing on local retail around Chicago. One retailer that it is hoping to work with, for instance, is a high-end 7-Eleven-style store that sells mostly healthy craft snacks.
The Meat Snack Market
Kohn said the meat snack industry has grown tremendously in the last six or seven years and a lot of that is due to millennials and women. Kohn also pointed out that people don’t always want to eat a protein bar or drink a shake. The company’s demographic, in general, he is an urban professional potentially looking for meal replacement on the go, he said. This individual might be someone who wants a snack while, say, traveling.
Beyond Prevail Jerky, KRAVE Jerky has been able to open the door for premium jerky that is now available in the aisles of premium markets. KRAVE Jerky’s audience is educated, married with a family, generally over the age of 25, earns a higher-than-average income and owns a home in a higher income area per findings from inMarket reported last year. And, unlike some parents who rely on mass retailers for their groceries, the KRAVE Jerky audience reportedly prefers to visit a local grocer.
Overall, jerky is growing in popularity as a go-to snack among many consumer groups. Nielsen says the snacks make up a $2.8 billion category with growing sales per reports last year. And, with product and digital payment innovation, companies like Prevail Jerky are aiming to differentiate themselves in the meat snack marketplace.