A startup has landed R140 million to popularise biltong in America – at R1,800 a kilo
- Stryve Biltong, a startup headquartered in Texas with products on the shelves of Walmart, just landed a R140 million funding round.
- Its marketing message is simple: in protein snacks, (South African) biltong is what (American) jerky wants to be.
- The company charges the equivalent of R1,800 per kilogram for its biltong.
- Stryve bulked up by gobbling up two different American biltong companies started by expatriate South African families.
Stryve Biltong – a very American company despite the name – has landed $10 million, or around R140 million, in first-round funding. And now it wants to teach the USA to eat biltong, something it holds greatly superior to the jerky that is America's home-grown attempt at drying meat.
"In the next five years you are going to see a lot more biltong than you do jerky," Stryve CEO Gabe Carimi, a famous former American football player, proclaims in a promotional video for the company.
"Biltong is what jerky wants to be."
Stryve proudly promotes the South African origins of its recipes, but is simultaneously very clear that its biltong is "proudly sourced and produced right here in the great U.S. of A!"
It sells sliced biltong, air-dried for 21 days, in flavours that include teriyaki and "smoked", for around $8 for a 64-gram pack, the equivalent of R1,800 per kilogram. (For comparison, Woolworths sells 25-gram packs of biltong for R800 per kilogram.)
Stryve was founded by sport-nutrition entrepreneurs, and says biltong is a superior protein snack.
Its $10 million war chest has been earmarked to complete a factory in Oklahoma, and on marketing.
Stryve Biltong was launched in November 2017. In January this year it bought Biltong USA, a company founded after the Joubert family moved to the USA 1990s, only to be dismayed at the lack of biltong in their new home country. After receiving approval from the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it grew from a North Carolina base to stores in seven more states, including New York and California.
Then, in February, Stryve bought Braaitime LLC, a company founded after Warren Pala moved his family from South Africa to New York in 2001. His previously family-owned business also sells boerewors and three-legged potjies from headquarters in New Jersey.
The combination of Biltong USA and Braaitime reportedly gave Stryve control over every biltong-making facility in the US inspected by its agriculture department.
Stryve says women, and people over the age of 50, have serious problems getting enough protein in their diet. It has promised to soon launch its own trail mix – usually an assortment of nuts – as it gets "creative with using biltong as a topping".
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