Founded in 2000, The Jerky Group’s brands include Wild West Jerky, Hogbites pork crackling and BullOx Biltong. It also produces Dragon’ Den entrepreneur Joe Walters’ beef jerky brand Texas Joe’s and Marks & Spencer’s own label product.
Cruga, set up in 1998, has a number of brands including Bundu and Cruga plus a number of private label contracts with online sports and nutritional suppliers.
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Together the combined group, Meatsnacks Group, will have an 80 per cent share of Europe’s £30m beef snack market supplying all the UK’s major grocery chains including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury. It will also supply over 10m packs to retailers and pubs across 27 countries this year.
Biltong and jerky are both spiced, marinated meats prepared in slightly different ways. Jerky, which has its origins in North America, is made from sliced, marinated meat which is then cooked and smoked, whereas biltong, a South African produce, is made from sliced, marinated meat which is then air dried.
Both are particularly popular with athletes because of their high protein and low fat content.
Jerky Group managing director James Newitt said: “The growth and demand for jerky and biltong in Europe has been significant in recent years, with the key driver that consumers are increasingly aware that both products are healthier, being high in protein and lower in fat alternatives to traditional carb-based snacks.”
He added that the two companies had already been working together for 10 years in areas such as packing, sales and distribution, making them a good strategic fit.