According to James Newitt, MD of Meatsnacks Group, entering into a licensing agreement with Rodale Inc, the US owner of Men’s Health, was a “really good move. Business is growing like crazy,” he said.
Newitt told BakeryandSnacks that, although very successful, the company’s Wild West beef jerky range did not really fully engage with consumers who are “gym junkies” or even those just looking for a clean, high protein product.
The benefits of the licence
Jerky has its origins in North America using cuts of beef silverside or brisket that are marinated for 24 hours, slowly cooked and smoked.
Biltong comes from South Africa, from the Dutch words ‘bil’ meaning rump and ‘tong’ meaning strip or tongue. Again, the meat snack is made using cuts of silverside beef and marinated, but is air-dried rather than cooked, before being sliced and packed.
Newitt describes jerky as "the white wine to biltong’s red wine."
However, this changed when he was approached by licencing facilitator Golden Goose and embarked on a partnership that resulted in the creation of a protein packed snack that carries the name of the world’s largest magazine for men.
Men’s Health has a readership of eight million (for its print version) and 42m page views per month.
“What [the agreement] was particularly good for was it [got the message across to] consumers that beef jerky is really good for you … and [with] the Men’s Health name on the pack, then it obviously adds a huge amount of credibility,” said Newitt.
Men’s Health Fuel Beef Jerky contains 12 g of protein per 30 g pack, is gluten-free and contains no artificial colours, flavouring or preservatives, or added MSG.
The jerky has been endorsed by the magazine as part of a protein-rich diet for building muscle and creating a healthy immune system.
It is available throughout the UK, from retailers like Tesco, and has recently been launched onto the Germany market.
The licensing agreement has opened further avenues for the Meatsnacks Group, including putting the brand name onto the company’s range of Cruga biltong, and possibly engaging with Woman’s Health, said Newitt.
The company was at Anuga, held in Cologne, Germany, last month, specifically to launch its Spayside Salmon Jerky, which comes with a set of bamboo tongs so “ladies don’t get oily fingers,” he said.
This product will be rolled out across Europe and even as far as the US.
“The market is very buoyant for protein at the moment and beef jerky and biltong are perfect protein snacks that everyone enjoy,” said Newitt. “Salmon Jerky is the ultimate high protein health snack.”
The company also does a Salmon Jerky (using Atlantic farmed salmon) under the Wild West brand, as well as a South Africa dried meat snack called biltong.
The story began 15 years ago for Newitt, who founded the Jerky Group to import snacks from Arizona and South America, before setting up production in Forres in Scotland.
About two years ago, the Jerky Group merged with the UK-based Cruga, a South African-owned biltong producer, and formed Meatsnacks Group.
Today, Meatsnacks Group commands a whopping 75% market share of the UK's jerky and biltong market, supplying major retailers and wholesalers, convenience stores, forecourts, pubs and distributors in 27 countries.
The company first ventured into private label in 2001, supplying Sainsbury’s with jerky, followed by Marks & Spencer, Texas Joe’s and numerous other retailers.