NACS Show 2017

Jack Link’s enters refrigerated meat snacks and pork skin categories

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Jack Link's is the category leader in the US meat snacks market.
Jack Link's is the category leader in the US meat snacks market.

Related tags Jack link Beef Pork

Jerky producer Jack Link’s has unveiled its first lines of refrigerated meat snacks and pork skin products at the NACS Show, hoping to expand its footprint in the convenience channel.

Refrigerated snacking is a “new state”​ for meat snack consumers and there has not been a strong brand in the pork skin category, Jack Link’s president and CEO Troy Link told BakeryandSnacks at the show, held in Chicago from October 17-20.

For its refrigerated offerings, Jack Link’s launched beef sticks infused with cheese, and various flavored cheese bites with sausage sticks.

“All our retail partners have their open-air refrigerate areas, and they are looking for good quality items to put in there,”​ said Link. “Our target audience is evenly female and male, and this four-ounce product is going to be meal replacement: it contains 18 grams of protein, no carbs and is very low in sugar.”

Jack Link’s plans to roll out these refrigerated items to US c-stores in 2018 first, because “that’s where we have the most strength from a distribution standpoint to get to the market in the quickest manner,”​ Link said. The company will then launch them in other channels.

According to Link, the company developed its pork skin snacks based on consumer feedback.

“They like chicharones,”​ he said. “Our brand, at the end of the day, is fun, flavored protein. So when you look at pork skin, it can be a replacement for a lot of snacks.

“We have some very interesting flavors that kind of follow the Jack Link’s portfolio, such as sweet and hot, and apple with bacon,”​ said Link.

“We expect to do some key targeting in c-stores and large format, but we won’t launch in full-scale until we get a good eye on [sales] numbers so we can make sure we keep up with the capacity.”

Growing household penetration

Link added the biggest opportunity for meat snacks is to grow household penetration.

“Our household penetration is still lagging behind other smaller categories like nuts and seeds, and pretzels, although the [meat snacks] category is larger in dollar sales,”​ he said. “Basically, we have fewer consumers buying more of protein snacks.

“In c-stores, the meat snacks category has always had a very important role. It’s a high-margin, dollar-dense category. Our c-store partners traditionally give us four feet [of display space], but I think that’s going to be grow to six to eight feet.”

Business performance

Jack Link’s is currently in a “privileged position”​ in the “dynamic and booming meat snacks category,”​ said Link.

In the past two years, the brand has expanded into new snacking occasions with the launch of the AM line targeting the breakfast sector, and has developed its own premium brand made with grass-fed beef, Lorissa’s Kitchen.

“Lorissa’s Kitchen is going into the second year and has been performing phenomenally, really marking out its own space in the market,”​ said Link, noting it has grown 400% in dollar sales annually.

He added the US protein snacks category has been growing 7% a year, expected to reach $4bn by the end of 2017, while Jack Link’s is running around 9%.

“Our market share [of the meat snacks category] is between 50% to 55% and we hope to continue to gain shares in 2018.”

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