When you visualise beef jerky, just what comes to mind? Do you cast your mind back to the mom-and-pop middle-of-nowhere gas stations encountered upon some seemingly-endless childhood road trip? That’s right: the ones offering dry somewhat questionable meat-snacks which resembled nothing known to nature. Maybe you fondly recall a preservative-laden chewy something or other, with the odour of rubber cable and the consistency of well….rubber cable.
Enter Krave Jerky and its proprietor, Jon Sebastiani, who is obsessed with the task of completely upending all those traits synonymous with hole-in-the-wall jerkys. Sebastiani’s Krave Pure Foods, is on a highly-profitable mission to zealously overhaul yours and my opinions of our firm chewy favorite, to the extent that we might be willing to pair it with a glass of our favorite red wine. Sound like a gastronomic bridge-too-far? A 3-year growth of 4,632% and yearly revenue of $USD17 million dollars would appear to suggest that consumer taste is right where Sebastiani thinks it is. Impressed? You bet!
Sonoma County Wine Dynasty
Sebastiani hails from a dynasty of Californian winemakers in Sonoma Valley, California. His great-grandfather founded Sebastiani Vineyards in 1904. In turn, his parents confidently ventured out on their own to launch Viansa Winery in 1989. As a child, Sebastiani developed an affinity for eating jerky sourced from his beloved local butcher. He credits this artisan for proving just how tantalising good jerky can taste. Leaving Sonoma for college, the young Sebastiani stocked up on this exemplary foodstuff and packed a supply in his trunk.
Business School Launch Pad
When his parents divested themselves of the family wine business, Sebastiani found himself at loose ends and decided to embark on an academic challenge to obtain a dual MBA in New York. It was during this spell in the Big Apple, that Jon challenged himself with the task of competing in the world-famous NYC Marathon. Jerky makes for a portable, non-perishable snack food convenient for high-activity athletes. Yet, all the jerky he was consuming as energy-food had been dehydrated and denatured. Sonoma County jerky was literally and geographically thousands of miles away,
The jerky he was used to eating in California was high in protein and free from artificial ingredients. Sebastiani was inspired to try and replicate that artisan level of quality but on a far bigger scale. He ended up making Krave his case study for an MBA class and realized shortly afterwards, that he was on the right track when he won a half-a-million dollar order from a Safeway buyer halfway through the course.
Krave came to be in late 2010, and was funded by capital from family, friends, and investors. Marketing happened at marathons and 10k races, with samples being given out at the finish lines. Krave attended wine and food shows, putting themselves in the same category as well-known restaurants with glamorous reputations. Why? To do jerky and wine pairings, of course!
What’s the Big Chew?
From start to finish, this jerky constitutes a high-quality snack food. The process of crafting Krave’s beef jerky, calls for a whole cut of domestic top round. The meat is firstly marinated in natural ingredients: no liquid flavorings or powders. The entire portion is then sliced up, marinated and cooked yet again. This proprietary process of double-marination and double-cooking is designed to produce a palatable jerky which is as far removed from its chewy dry cousins as could possibly be. No gas-station rubber here! It’s not easy to do, since the very process of making jerky characteristically demands the extraction of as much moisture as possible in order to lend the meat its typically long shelf life.
What do you end up with at the end of all this? A product that touts:
- Low-fat, high protein
- All natural ingredients
- Low sodium
- No nitrates, refined sugars, or artificial flavors
- Hand cut natural meats
- Double-baked and double-marinated, not dried
- 70-100 calories per one ounce serving
- Completely different and amazing flavors (like citrus basil turkey)
Krave Jerky is aimed at athletes and gourmets alike. It’s marketed as a high-brow snack and the company has created pairing suggestions. They even have limited-time flavors where they create wine and herb combinations. Jon credits his mother for his inspiration, as she was the one who dealt with the food side of things within their wine business, and even has her own cookbooks. She showed him that there were no barriers to inspiration and creativity. We at makemoneywithfood.com believe that his results speak for themselves – and we think they’re looking pretty glamorous!
Sebastiani has learned how possible it is for peoples’ perceptions to be altered. It was achieved with wine and he hopes to now replicate this success with jerky. He understands that it’s not merely a question of changing packaging, rather its a more involving process, which requires a paradigm shift in consumer attitudes towards jerky as a foodstuff in its own right. Sebastiani provocatively suggests, that with Krave, the meat snack industry is “ripe to be disrupted”.
Why would you want to jump into this industry? It’s a $4 billion dollar pie! Companies that have been making jerky for longer than Krave have been working hard to upgrade their own products because consumers are demanding more variety – they want something different. Sebastiani is determined to challenge what the average American consumer thinks about jerky and it seems to be working. Virgin Airlines was an early partner, and Krave can now be found at Costco, QVC, Whole Foods, and Safeway.
*Photo courtesy of Krave Pure Foods
Links & Resources
- Krave Jerky – Company website
- Facebook – Krave Jerky on Facebook
- Twitter – Krave Jerky on Twitter
- Inc 5000 – Inc magazine annual list of top food businesses – USA
- shopify* – online e-commerce platform to sell your food products online
- 99designs* – start a contest where designers compete to design your logo
- LivePlan* – start your food business plan from 100’s of templates – USA
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