Biltong hits the big time – listing in New York!
Stryve Foods, which has a 75% share of the US biltong market, has struck a deal with Andina Acquisition Corp, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, which will see Stryve list on the Nasdaq under the ticker SNAX. This would value the company at $170-million — giving the three-year old healthy food upstart a cash infusion to grow its business and market its products.
A separate group of private investors, including actor Channing Tatum and NFL quarterback Justin Herbert, are privately purchasing $42.5-million of common stock at $10 per share, which will close concurrently with the merger. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter.
A public offering marks the latest step for the fast-growing company founded three years ago. For much of its brief existence, its portfolio included its flagship product, Stryve, the top-selling biltong brand in the U.S. Last fall, it rolled out Vacadillos, a dried carne seca meat aimed at Hispanics who may not be familiar with its signature item. Then in mid-December it purchased Kalahari, the second biggest biltong brand, to further strengthen its dominant position in the category.
Stryve Foods posted a 63% compound annual growth rate in gross revenues since it started in 2018. The pace is expected to accelerate in 2021. Sales are expected to double to $51-million in 2021 as Stryve boosts its e-commerce presence, grows sales of its existing brands and adds more retail stores to the 20,000 locations where it is already carried.
Based in the town of Plano, Texas, Stryve was founded by former American football player Gabe Carimi; Joe Oblas, founder of sports nutrition company Prosupps; and Ted Case, founder of a bodybuilding supplements firm.
The South African connection
The SA connection is local expat Warren Pala (left), who originally comes from Springs and began making biltong in his New Jersey garage after relocating to the US in 2001. Pala sold his company Braaitime to Stryve in 2018. At the time, Braaitime was the only biltong manufacturer in the US that had achieved USDA compliance.
“It’s really been an incredible journey and I’m very excited to be part of a company that is opening up a whole new food category in the US, especially one that [comes] from the country of my birth,” Pala told the Financial Mail.
Having relocated from New Jersey to Texas, he works for Stryve as head of manufacturing but is affectionately known in the company as “chief biltong officer”.
Stryve’s ambition is to act as a disrupter in the growing US meat snack category via its two main air-dried meat products: biltong and carne seca, which is essentially the Latin American equivalent of the dried meat snack.
One of the big differentiators of biltong in the US is that, unlike jerky, it contains no sugar and is air-dried rather than cooked. The air-drying process means the end-product yields between 40% and 50% more protein per serving than beef jerky, which is typically cooked when produced on an industrial scale.
Stryve’s biltong also does not contain monosodium glutamate, gluten, nitrates, nitrites or preservatives. The snacks are also keto and paleo diet-friendly, making them a favourite for increasingly health-conscious millennial consumers.
“Our intention is to accelerate Stryve’s growth trajectory by capitalising on the strengths of our existing business, while staying true to our mission of helping Americans snack better and live happier, more fulfilling lives by disrupting traditional snacking categories,” says Oblas, co-CEO of Stryve.
A 2018 MRI-Simmons consumer segmentation report showed that only 25% of the estimated 183-million healthy snack consumers in the US purchased a meat snack during the year. That suggests there’s a significant growth opportunity in the segment, which has attracted a range of investors into the burgeoning company.
While South Africans will recognise Stryve’s original and spicy peri-peri biltong, the company also offers some unique flavours to suit the US palate. These include Cajun, hickory, teriyaki, zesty garlic, hatch green chilli and mesquite BBQ.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” says Pala. “When I came to the US as an expat South African, I started making biltong in my garage mostly because I really missed some of the traditional foods from home. I had no idea I’d one day see our biltong company listing on the Nasdaq.”
Great product but still an unkown
Jaxie Alt, the co-CEO and CMO of Stryve Foods, is decidedly upbeat when she says her company’s air-dried meat products have the potential to disrupt the staid meat snack category, and while Wall Street seems to agree, the challenge remains convincing US consumers.
“We have an amazing product, but no one has heard of it,” said Alt, who previously spent more than 17 years at the former Dr Pepper Snapple Group, where she served as co-CMO.
“We got to market and drive awareness and get people to try it. We’re not scared. Meat snacks is pretty competitive and we’ve figured out a way to play there in a highly differentiated way,” she said.
“That will be our same strategy: How do we figure out a way in with consumer insight and differentiated products that really is something compelling that makes consumers want to try us and fill in a need that is not there today.”
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