NOSHscape: The Latest Food Brand News

Biltong Launch Marks Start of New Era At Chef’s Cut

Meat snack brand Chef’s Cut announced in May the launch of a new line of beef biltong — thinly sliced, cured beef from South Africa — which new CEO Bart Adlam hopes will give the brand a versatile and on-trend snack option for young consumers. The new line will also sport refresh packaging for the brand and comes as the company has added a spate of new executives in recent months.

The biltong, debuting at the 2019 Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago, will launch into retail later this summer. Each 1.7 oz bag will be line priced with Chef’s Cut’s traditional jerky at an average MSRP of $5.99, and contain zero sugar and 26 grams of protein.

Calling the new line “magic,” Adlam told NOSH that, while the paleo and keto diet trends had an influence in the decision to launch biltong, he believes low carbohydrate, low sugar snacks are a macro-trend that will resonate with all shoppers. The product’s messaging will focus on these nutritionals, rather then the exotic appeal of biltong in order to connect with the greatest amount of shoppers. The strategy is similar, Adlam said, to the approach he took at Siggi’s with its high protein skyr.

“Siggi’s didn’t spend a significant amount of time emphasizing the Icelandic nature of the product or explaining what skyr was as much as it explained what Siggi’s was,” Adlam said. “[With biltong] first and foremost we’re just bringing this nutritional magic of a zero sugar, high protein [snack] to as many consumers as we can.”

Those nutritional attributes also allow biltong to be positioned as a mini-meal, in contrast to jerky, which is often perceived as only a snack. In addition to providing consumers with more use occasions, the company also expects the line will bring younger, female consumers to the brand.

Chef’s Cut will face competition in the biltong set, most notably from Stryve, which recently closed a $16.5 million round of funding. Although Stryve claims to be the leading domestic biltong producer in the US, Adlam said Chef’s Cut is not co packing with them.

The new line features a new package design: Unlike Chef’s Cut’s jerky, the biltong bags feature a window to view the product as well as a logo that’s no longer split onto two lines.

The design will be integrated across the rest of Chef’s Cut products by the third quarter, Adlam said. The traditional Chef’s Cut jerky and meat sticks will feature packaging that’s predominantly black, rather then its current iteration that’s split between a black background and colorful center graphics.

Purple Carrot Acquired

Plant-based meal kit company Purple Carrot will be acquired by Tokyo-based Oisix ra daichi Inc. (Oisix), Japan’s largest meal kit and organic food delivery service. The deal, announced in May, includes an upfront payment of $12.8 million, with an earn-out potential of an additional $17.2 million through 2021. Purple Carrot retains its Massachusetts based headquarters and staff.

Founded in 2014, Purple Carrot serviced 22,000 customers last year and generated $43 million in revenue. In the first four months of 2019, the company achieved profitability and positive EBITA, Purple Carrot CEO and founder Andy Levitt told NOSH.

Thus far, the company has raised a reported $10 million from investors including Fresh Del Monte Produce, New Crop Capital, Stray Dog Capital and Windsail Capital. Whipstitch Capital acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Purple Carrot in the transaction and told NOSH that Purple Carrot was “an attractive asset” for potential buyers.

Oisix may not be a familiar name to U.S. consumers, but the publicly traded company generated approximately $580 million in revenues for the year ending in March 2019.

According to Levitt, Purple Carrot’s mission has always been to make plant-based food easy and accessible for omnivores. It’s a similar “you won’t miss the meat” messaging that has helped plant-based brands Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods change consumer perception of the category.

In a document posted on its website, Oisix stated that it estimates the global meal kit market to reach $9 billion by 2025 and that both companies “[provide] customers with deliciousness and a healthy eating table through food.”

Mondelēz Acquires Perfect Snacks to Build Out Snacking Portfolio

Global snack company Mondele¯z International announced in June an agreement to acquire a majority interest in refrigerated snacking platform Perfect Snacks.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Perfect Bar senior leadership, including siblings Bill, Leigh and Charisse Keith, will continue to operate the business from its headquarters in San Diego and will retain a significant minority equity interest in the company. Moving forward, Bill Keith (Perfect Snacks CEO) and Leigh Keith (Perfect Snacks President) will report into Glen Walter Mondelez EVP and President of North America.

According to a release by Mondele¯z, in 2018 Perfect Snacks generated roughly $70 million in net revenue. The brand is in roughly 27,000 doors including Whole Foods Market, Trader Joes, CVS, Hy Vee, Publix, Kroger banners, Starbucks and Costco.

Over the past year, Perfect Snacks has broadened its portfolio, moving from its full size bars to children’s bars (with a different formulation and size) last fall. Earlier this year the company introduced a multiformat container of Perfect Bites to fill more snacking occasions.

Although the refrigerated bar set has seen rapid growth over the last several years, with many new competitors entering the market, the category still struggles with issues such as supply chain and slotting, with placement in store varying from banner to banner.

According to Mondelez, in the U.S. the broader category of “refrigerated snacks” generates $20 billion in annual sales and accounts for a third of the total snacking market. The smaller sub-segment of “well-being snacks” (which include nutrition bars, nuts and fruit packs, yogurt and hummus) delivers roughly $7 billion in sales, Mondelez noted in the release. The segment is growing faster than other refrigerated snack segments, seeing roughly 8% growth over the last three years.

With Dirt Kitchen & CaPao, Mondelēz Tests New Launch Strategies

Last year Mondele¯z CEO Dirk Dirk Van de Put tasked SnackFutures, his innovation and venture arm, with a bold mission: generate $100 million in growth by 2022. So far, the group has worked towards that goal with investments in emerging brands such as Uplift Foods and Hu Kitchen and Products and an announced partnership with Israeli food tech incubator, The Kitchen.

But now, with the test of two new snack lines, Dirt Kitchen and CaPao, SnackFutures is dipping its toes into some of the most current entrepreneurial go-to market strategies.

“What you’re seeing is really us bringing to life [our] motto of putting the consumer at the heart of things, disrupting how we do things, and acting like [a] startup,” Brigette Wolf, SnackFutures’ head of innovation, told NOSH. “Really break[ing] the mold of ourselves to disrupt the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’”

Both brands are currently in the early stages of their respective development, without determined prices, pack sizes or even finalized names.

Dirt Kitchen is Mondele¯z’s attempt to move into fruit and vegetable snacking, Wolf said, using upcycled fruits and vegetables that are either excess produce or have been deemed “ugly” (aka not aesthetically pleasing enough to be sold as-is). The group is testing two snack options: dried vegetable chips and a veggie “trail mix” of whole pieces of vegetables and nuts blended with herbs and spices.

SnackFutures is currently conducting in-store trials for Dirt Kitchen, as well as testing ads on Instagram to see if consumers like, share or follow the account.

CaPao also plays to the concept of food waste. When making chocolate, only the beans of the cacao plant are used. The brand, which includes snacks and Mondele¯z’s first ready-to-drink beverage product, is the company’s attempt to use the rest of the fruit.

SnackFutures is running a $5,000 Kickstarter campaign for several CaPao products, including cacao-fruit jerky, cacao-fruit, nut and oat milk smoothie, cacao-fruit mochi and cacao-fruit smoothie balls. Kickstarter backers must select which product they would like to receive in exchange for their pledge, giving the SnackFutures’ team immediate feedback as to which product lines are resonating the most.

A global company using Kickstarter as a testing ground isn’t totally unheard of. Last year Tyson Foods launched its chicken chips ¡YAPPAH! on the platform, but the company already had plans to roll the products out into select markets and used Kickstarter more as a marketing platform. For SnackFuture, Wolf said, the platform is the research tool.