In a little over three years, Stryve has helped to introduce beef biltong to the U.S. market. A meat snack staple in Africa and other parts of the world, the air-dried meat product has helped to expand the meat snack category with a new, viable format.
Since its inroads into the U.S. marketplace in 2018, Stryve has expanded its presence into new markets and grown its management structure. Now, the company is expanding its line to continue to build upon its better-for-you brand premise. New products under the Stryve Nutrition label include collagen protein, bone broth and pre-workout supplements in a variety of flavors. It’s a natural extension for the company, because CEO Joe Oblas and founding partner Ted Casey both have backgrounds in sports nutrition.
“It's our company's mission to help Americans snack better. And by virtue of snacking better, we think we can impact people to make positive changes nutritionally. We saw the functional supplements as a natural extension, and because of that, a really robust DTC (direct to consumer) business for us that is heavily skewed to our own dot-coms,” Oblas says.
The brand extension comes as the company successfully navigated a difficult time in the food industry. Like most companies in the meat industry, Stryve had to deal with rising labor costs, meat prices and shipping delays.
“I feel really proud of what we accomplished, because a lot of our major retailers all chose to expand us, which really shows the health of the brand. And we secured a tremendous amount of additional distribution with Costco, Walmart, Target, Speedway and 7-Eleven,” he adds.
Stryve rolled out its Stryve Nutrition products on its website in the second half of 2021, to help its consumers see the company as more than a meat snack manufacturer. After that successful introduction, the company has been adding new products with the plan to take them into the retail sector.
“I want consumers to know that they can trust the brand, that we're going to deliver a great product,” Oblas says. “I think the population now is wise to the fact that it's sugar that really is the problem in the worldwide diet — American diets, most prominently. We want to continue to deliver products that check the boxes for us for being good for you and also either zero or extremely low sugar.”
Unlike many recent entries into the meat snack market, Stryve is more than a brand name. It is a manufacturer, and that vertical integration is a core part of the company’s thesis. “It's been that way from the very get go, and it gives us a significant competitive advantage from a gross margin standpoint, versus companies that are reliant on contract manufacturers,” Oblas says. “I think that really helped in 2021, because lead times for companies dependent on contract manufacturers to get their products extended out significantly. We didn't have those challenges because of our own capabilities.”
Earlier this year, Stryve secured $35 million to bolster its primary manufacturing facility in Madill, Okla. It is planning to build and/or procure other facilities during 2022.
“The first major step was to expand the drying capabilities at our primary factory, which significantly increases drying capacity ahead of the large distribution expansions previously announced with Costco, Walmart and Target, among others,” explains Oblas. “This was completed ahead of schedule and within budget. Second, we have located a site to consolidate our fulfillment operations that will further enable Stryve to expand capacity and capture efficiencies by locating our corporate offices, e-commerce fulfillment and wholesale fulfillment under one roof. Lastly, Stryve is working on developing additional manufacturing capabilities in-house that can support diversified growth initiatives in the future.”