Jeff Carlson, assistant director of Sales & Marketing at Two Rivers, discusses the new Bo Jackson’s 34 Reserve line of products as well as the quick success the company has experienced.
Andy Hanacek: We kind of hinted on it last year in the cover story, but this is almost Two Rivers’s prime time now. Tell me and the viewers about Two Rivers background and what it has done in a very short time.
Jeff Carlson: We launched Two Rivers brand seven years ago, and we had zero customers and were selling zero pounds per week. Fast forward seven years later, we’re selling 1.2+ million pounds per week. We have a hundred different distribution points in 50 different states all the way from Alaska to Hawaii and all the lower 48 [states]. We virtually blanketed the entire country, whether that [is in] cruise lines, casinos, casual dining chains or your mom-and-pop steak house chains. All of those groups have started to utilize Two Rivers products, which has been exponential growth. We are the fastest growing boxed beef brand in the country. The reason for that is in everything we do, whether it is our Certified Tender Line, our Chop House Line or other brands that we offer, we elevate the quality of beef that we are able to put out there and we help to mitigate the food cost at the same time for the consumer. So the consumer has an exemplary dining experience while the food service operator is able to enjoy some type of cost savings or cost mitigation.
Hanacek: So not buying the super high-end stuff necessarily and they are still able to replicate a really good eating experience is kind of the whole point.
Carlson: Exactly right.
Hanacek: Talk a little bit about the partnership you just announced with Bo Jackson’s 34 Reserve. Maybe partnership is not the word, but you guys are working together. Bo Jackson went out and was looking for some protein lines and protein products to distribute and sell, and you guys were there. Talk about that deal.
Carlson: It was actually perfect timing, and there was some great synergy between Bo Jackson and Two Rivers. I will say that after getting to know Bo, Bo doesn’t put his name on anything that he does not consider extremely high quality. I’m sure that Bo gets calls every single day for things he could put his name on, but when he was launching his food line, he wanted to put as high quality of products as he could out there, whether they were burgers, chicken wings, steaks or seafood. He wanted to put the best product on the plate, and at Two Rivers, we were looking to launch a premium line. We had become a staple in buffets, coffee shops, cruise lines and those types of outlets, whether it was for roasting items or for steaks and things like that, but we were looking to get into some premium, high-end opportunities. We are launching a choice line with Bo Jackson called, short name called 34 Reserve, long name called Bo Jackson’s 34 Reserve by Two Rivers. So we are cobranding it. It is a true partnership with Bo, and it is a choice line. Basically, what we are doing is we are taking this already great, raw material and we are simply elevating the natural marble that’s already in that meat. We are increasing the marbling score, so our choice beef is going to look more like upper two-thirds or prime. The guest is going to have an upper two-thirds or prime-style dining experience at the cost of choice. Again, adding value as is everything Two Rivers does. It’s an interesting time, because in protein, especially beef, as we have record beef prices year after year, as beef continues to go up 20 percent ever year, year after year the last few years, food service operators, especially high-end food service operators, are looking for options. Unfortunately in protein, especially beef, the only way you can lowering your food costs is to lower your grade, and then that customer that is coming in, family of four that was spending 50, 75, upwards of 100 dollars for their meal, they are not having the same level of dining experience as they had before. Enter Two Rivers. Enter 34 Reserve. 34 Reserve is going to be that option to where that food service operator can help maintain or mitigate their food costs but we can put even better dining experience out there on the plate for the guest, which is what we ought to do. The industry, whether it’s the beef industry or the restaurant industry, everyone is out there to put an incredible dining experience out there for their guests, and that’s what 34 Reserve is going to do.
Hanacek: Perfect. Jeff, thank you for taking the time to talk to me about those two things. Thanks for having me out to this event. It’s been a cool event. As usual, the steak was outstanding.
Carlson: We appreciate it. We are going to be doing these events all throughout the country. We’ve been doing blind cuttings against upper two-thirds all across the country, and hopefully some folks come out in the food service world and come enjoy some of our steaks, enjoy some time with Bo Jackson, and we’re excited about the line.