PLANO, Texas — Jaxie Alt, the new co-CEO of Stryve, used to eat jerky about once a year and had never heard of biltong.
Now Alt, a former Keurig Dr Pepper executive, is running a biltong company that saw $14 million in sales in 2019 and expects to double that amount in 2020.
Alt joined Plano, Texas-based Stryve in March 2019 as chief marketing officer and was recently promoted to work alongside Joe Oblas, co-CEO and co-founder of the company.
The company is launching the meat snack—which differs from jerky in that it is air-dried rather than baked and is sugar-free—in rebranded packaging soon, and Alt said the anticipated $20 million to $25 million the company expects to raise in its next round of funding will go toward marketing the product and helping America learn more about the meat snack, which originated in South Africa.
Stryve’s biltong, which comes in strips and sticks, is already in 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide as well as some Circle K, CVS and Walmart stores, among other retailers.
Alt sat down with CSP Associate Editor Hannah Prokop to talk about her new role and how she’s working to grow Stryve in convenience and other channels.
Q: Stryve saw $14 million in sales in 2019. How do you expect to double that in 2020?
A: We have a lot of exciting stuff coming. We’re pushing for more distribution, so we’re working hard to get in more retailers. We have this rebrand coming, so starting next week all of our creative will change, new packaging is rolling out—so that’s a huge piece, which we think will drive more velocity for us and make the brand stand out and make people want to give us a try, we hope. And then we’ll continue our efforts online.
Q: What does the new packaging design look like, and what was the inspiration behind that?
A: We’ve got a really bright, vibrant design that jumps off the shelf. We really know that no one knows what biltong is, so we’ve got to engage the consumer, we’ve got to get them to stop in their feed, which you know is really hard. We chose a really dynamic, bold design that has very simple copy, but a very dynamic design and a color scheme that looks delicious. And we’re trying to build a brand that is fun and energetic and is something people get excited about when they see it. And when they flip it over, the back is very clean and very simple and shows the product and talks about the nutritional highlights. So that’s really the strategy.
Q: What are the benefits of your distribution facility that opened in Madill, Okla.?
A: We really wanted to control our own destiny. We’re the only biltong brand that is a manufacturer—everyone else co-packs. So we invested a huge amount of money in a state-of-the-art biltong facility ... that gives us the runway to double our business, and double again and double again.
Q: Why should c-store owners consider this product instead of a traditional jerky?
A: I think this is what consumers are looking for when you think about health and wellness trends and the changing sort of convenience shopper [who really wants] better options. So [Stryve’s biltong has] twice as much protein as beef jerky, zero sugar, nothing artificial—and we believe we taste the best ... so we have a lot of advantages we think our brand brings.
Q: How has your perspective been useful in a typically male-dominated industry?
A: I think one of the big things that I’ve been able to help with is consumer segmentation and getting smart about who are the meat snack consumers today, and looking at this snacking category in total, not just in meat snacks, and saying, "Wow, there’s a huge world of people who are looking for healthy snacks that actually don’t buy meat snacks today because the category isn’t relevant, they don’t even go down that aisle, or a lot of the marketing is traditionally very male." So there’s a lot of consumers that we’re not talking to. So we think our brand, and our packaging and what we’re offering is going to be relevant to a whole new group of people who are looking for a healthy snack who don’t buy jerky today.