KRAVE Acquires Chef’s Cut Real Jerky Co Under Sonoma Brands

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“Jon Sebastiani, founder of KRAVE, aspires to once again remake the premium meat snack segment.”

According to Foodnavigator-USA, “after KRAVE Jerky inspired entrepreneurs to flood the meat snack segment with innovative and premium products in a bid to replicate its breakout success, the company’s founder and recently renewed owner appears ready to roll-up the most promising new players to create a marketing powerhouse that can push the category to the next level.”

Just “two months after buying KRAVE back from Hershey in May, Jon Sebastiani announced on July 9 that his private equity firm and incubator Sonoma Brands has acquired Chef’s Cut Real Jerky Co. for an undisclosed amount with the goal of ‘approaching of a one plus one equals three strategy,’” the report said.

Sebastiani explained that “by joining the two brands in one portfolio he hopes to once again reposition the premium side of meat snacks by stemming an ongoing promotions war in the space that threatens the success of all players,” Foodnavigator-USA reported.

“The original thesis of KRAVE was to reintroduce meat snacks to America in a more qualitative, functional, flavor or culinary-forward manner,” Sebastiani said. And the deeper strategy was to usher in a new wave of health and wellness and fitness-oriented consumers,” including women who previously were overlooked by legacy brands that narrowly focused on men, wrote Foodnavigator-USA.

The report added that the “strategy was so success[ful] that ‘the category 100% followed,’ but then quickly became so crowded and fragmented with new brands that ‘classic businesses issues erupted’ and a price war began.” Foodnavigator-USA wrote that “compounding the negative effects of the price war has been the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the meat snack space a bit harder than other sectors as people are no longer on-the-go or working in offices.”

This has created “a perfect storm for a very crowded, fragmented area of premium meat snacks,” and “we believe that right now is an opportune time to roll-up multiple brands that live in the premium segment of this space,” Sebastiani said. By bringing brands together, he added, he believes they “can collaborate with one another, can promote more strategically alongside each other and can deliver a more efficient strategy to retailers by representing multiple brands in the premium space.”

The acquisition will give Sonoma Brands “a toe-hold in every significant vertical of the meat snacks space. While KRAVE focused solely on jerky, Chef’s Cut brings a zero-sugar option, biltong and sticks,” Foodnavigator-USA wrote. Sebastiani explained that Sonoma Brands will continue to look for “flexibility to enter additional snack segments with its KRAVE brand.”

Read the full report here.

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