Many meat companies like to tout their age and their heritage as a means of promoting authenticity to consumers. It’s a sound and successful strategy, as consumers do tend to associate longevity with quality. Every now and then, a company needs to shake things up. Mighty Spark Food is a brand new line of meat products, and everything about it screams “modern” and “current.” There is no traditional packaging and tried-and-true flavors. There are bold graphics, intriguing flavor combinations and on-trend label claims. It’s a meat line for the modern consumer.
Mighty Spark Food is making its official launch on April 2. The company has had a presence in the retail sector with a line of products called Man Cave Craft Eats. Man Cave started at a Minnesota farmer’s market in 2010 before expanding into retail in 2013. With products like a Mac & Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Sausage Link and Absinthe Basil Chicken Patties, the line is geared for the male shopper.
“We just thought that there was an opportunity in the market that is bigger than what Man Cave was going after,” says Nick Beste, founder and CEO of Might Spark Food Co. “We're excited for Mighty Spark Food Co. because we think the opportunity is huge to appeal to a broad range of consumers that are looking for a modern, on-trend, premium brand in the meat department.”
Product development for the brand began last fall, says Taylor Mulfinger, food scientist. He says that the product development involved some conventional and non-conventional methods to develop a list of items that hit the company’s core strengths but also expanded to other avenues. The snack stick line, for example, includes interesting flavor combinations like a Honey Jalapeno Chicken stick and a Cranberry Ginger Chicken Stick.
“I'm not a huge kale person,” he admits, “but I'm into the blueberry and kale snack stick that I developed here with the team. If you look out across the [snack stick] category, there's a lot out there. But ours are going to be low-calorie with lots of flavor. It’s essentially a healthy snack but something that you can enjoy at the same time.”
Another product is a Chicken Power Patty that is 50 percent meat and 50 percent vegetables, spices or other ingredients. They are the middle ground between the all-meat burgers and the plant-based products that are appearing in the marketplace.
“It's something for a consumer who's wanting to cut down on meat but doesn't want to cut it out of their life,” Mulfinger says.
Beste says that the product development team has upwards of 40 items ready to hit the market this year. The packaging is unlike anything else in the meat case. The package has a front flap that opens like a book, providing more space for the company to tell its story and describe its philanthropic bent. The 1 For 1 program donates a meal for every product sold to fight childhood hunger. In the first nine months of the program, the company donated one million meals; Beste estimates that the next nine months will lead to a donation of three million meals.
Between the products, the packaging and the philanthropy, Beste seeks to be a disruptor in the meat industry. He looks to other brands like Halo Top (ice cream), BOOMCHICKAPOP (popcorn/snacks) and Krave (jerky) and sees similarities to Mighty Spark.
“If you look at every other department in the grocery store, you see this sort of modern, disruptive brand, if you will,” he explains. “We want to be one of those brands in the fresh meat case. Some of the similarities that they all have are that better-for-you or more simple, honest ingredient positioning, premium positioning, unique and flavor-forward profiles, an authentic story, and brand.
“People want to know that there are real people making real food behind this. So, you'll notice on our packaging, there's a picture of our entire team, which not many other brands can do. And then they want the social cause component with our 1 For 1. Those are all the elements that today's consumer is looking for and that's what we think we're delivering,” he adds.
As for the Mighty Spark name, that came after months of brainstorming. Mighty Spark wasn’t on the list of choices, but once it was blurted out, it was a natural fit. The notion of something small but powerful resonated with Beste. The company is, after all, a small business hoping to bring a powerful change to the industry. Its 1 For 1 program is a small way to make a big difference in the lives of hungry children.
“And then the product itself is a mighty spark,” Beste adds. ”It’s a little package of hot dogs, but they're going to really turn around that barbecue, crank it up to the next level and be a mighty spark to elevating your barbecue or your Tuesday night meal.”