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Think Jerky targets $1m first-year sales from flavors developed by celeb chefs

Think Jerky’s flavors are inspired by nationally renowned chefs

Chicago-based startup Think Jerky has set its sights on generating $1m in revenue in its first year on the market.

The brand currently comprises four variants featuring flavors developed by celebrity chefs (see box out), and pitches its products as a healthy snack with minimal salt and sugar.

Priced at $4.99 for a 1.5 oz pack, the jerky is distributed through Fortune Fish in the Midwest and also shipped directly to retailer Mariano’s.

And distribution is set to soar, with founder Ricky Hirsch telling BakeryandSnacks that “some of the best retailers in the world” were now reaching out to the brand.

One of Chicago's fastest growers

“We are one of the fastest-growing companies in Chicago,” he added. “It’s all happening very quickly.”

So quickly, in fact, that demand is currently 10 times bigger than supply, and Hirsch has already identified suppliers the business could call on when the time arises.

“As long as we can continue to get enough of the highest quality ingredients and meat that we use, then we will be ok,” he said.

Think Jerky's celeb chefs

Gale Gand

  • ‘Michelin-Star Chef, author and Food Network host’
  • Flavors: Sriracha Honey-flavored Turkey Jerky and Ginger Orange Beef Jerky.

Laurent Gras

  • ‘Three-star Michelin Chef, culinary innovator and author’
  • Flavor: Thanksgiving-inspired Turkey Jerky

Matt Troost

  • ‘Farm-to-table expert and believer in locally sourced, sustainable ingredients’
  • Flavor: Sweet Chipotle-flavored Beef Jerky

With the meat snacks marketing increasingly moving towards higher-welfare ingredients (Jack Link’s acquired grass-fed beef supplier Grass Run Farm last month), Think Jerky uses 100% grass-fed meat for its beef jerky, and free-range meat in its turkey products.

'Jerky is not all the same'

But many consumers still consider all jerky products the same, believes Hirsch.

“It’s not,” he added. “We consciously minimized the salt and sugar and made Think Jerky America’s next health food. It’s more expensive to make, but it’s completely worth it.”

“Meat, and healthy meat, are good and will continue to grow,” Hirsch said.

New flavor being developed

As for the future of his own business, coming this summer will be a flavor developed by a chef new to the brand.

“We are paying tribute and honoring the classic meat packing industry of Chicago,” said Hirsch. 

“All our jerky is healthy and uses restaurant quality ingredients, but for this flavor we want the beef to be the main flavor.”

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