OneForNeptune Founder and CEO Nick Mendoza was a marine scientist before starting his fish jerky business scaled from small-scale fisheries. (He also partly grew up on a cattle ranch in New Mexico.) After working in research, Mendoza left his job and career to move back to New Mexico. He aimed to figure out what he wanted to do while also getting the cattle organic and grass-fed certified, “and maybe doing a value-added product like jerky,” Mendoza told PYMNTS.
In the $3 billion meat snack space, however, Mendoza learned there was 4 percent growth in beef jerky sales the trailing year, while there was 200 percent growth in alternatives like bison, vegan, turkey and salmon. Even so, he noted that “there really weren’t any established fish jerky companies out there.” Mendoza sold some of the cattle on the ranch to buy the first dehydrator, which he used to experiment with fish jerky production, essentially divesting from beef into fish jerky.
Today, OneForNeptune sells the jerky through its website, where it specifies nutritional and allergen callouts. Consumers can also visit a “shop now” section, where they can buy three flavors or a combo pack at a discount. Shoppers can also sign up and subscribe to receive jerky every 30 or 60 days to receive an even deeper discount. The company also offers a variety of payment options from Apple Pay to Google Pay, as well as credit cards.
When it comes to flavors, OneForNeptune offers original (smoked sea salt and juniper) as well as honey lemon ginger and fiery Cajun. “It has every kind of attribute of jerky” in terms of texture and rich flavor, Mendoza said, and adds that “it’s not stringy.” The company’s fish is U.S. West Coast rockfish caught off the coast of Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
Every batch OneForNeptune produces can be traced back to the fishing boat. (Consumers can access the feature by typing in their catch batch number or date into the “Find My Fish” tool to learn more about their fish, fisher and fishery.) The company has found a broad appeal for its product, from young moms to kids as well as Keto and Paleo communities. It decided to focus on two major groups – outdoor and environmental enthusiasts as well as fisherman, boaters and hunters.
With fish jerky, Mendoza said his company is building out a new “edge of the category in the market” for meat-based snacks. OneForNeptune has the long-term grandiose goal of becoming the “flagship company for sustainable seafood snacks,” he noted. The company is also at work on items beyond fish jerky.
The company’s products are listed on Amazon and are also in brick-and-mortar stores – mostly in California, with the rest scattered around the country.
Mendoza’s own experiences inspired the company name: He completed some trans-Pacific sailing trips on an old brigantine-style sailing vessel. At the end of the voyage, the captain would have everyone on the deck for a drink and thank the crew, while paying homage to Neptune for protecting them. He would then pour one in the sea for Neptune (hence, “OneForNeptune”).
Other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are also aiming to make their mark on the jerky market. Beef jerky brand Prevail Jerky, for instance, makes jerky that comes in four distinct flavors, from original to spicy and umami to lemongrass. The company’s flavors are unique to the market and cater to different palates, Founder and CEO Glen Kohn told PYMNTS in a recent interview.
From Prevail Jerky to OneForNeptune, DTC brands are aiming to reinvent the jerky category from beef varieties with nontraditional flavors to those made from rockfish for a new twist on a popular snack.