Meatsnacks Group is the story of four entrepreneurs who shared a vision of creating great tasting healthy snacks, and a passion for home-grown quality produce. They joined forces to become the UK’s largest manufacturer for jerky and biltong in Europe.
Dried meat jerky has built up a reputation as a snack that’s perfect for men on the go, but the team at Meatsnacks Group wanted to change that perspective. They set out to develop a product that would be appealing to women, and the result was unique, unexpected and appetising.
Today, everyone lives a fast-paced life where time is short and convenience is key. With health and fitness now a huge focus in modern society, finding easy solutions for making better choices are desired, and on-the-go snacks like beef jerky fit the bill. So, when the team looked at replicating their meat-drying process to create something that would be more marketable to women, they knew it would be no easy task.
With the support from HIE we now have a really fantastic array of products on offer and we’re really just at the start of our innovation journey.
With shared experience of over 20 years in the industry and innovation as their driver, the directors of Meatsnacks Group attempted to create the UK’s first salmon jerky. Working with such a delicate product like salmon presented a few challenges along the way, but with the help of HIE’s Innovation team, their cohesive vision for a new desirable meat snack was made possible.
Jennifer Macdonald-Nethercott, Marketing Manager for Meatsnacks Group, who joined the company on the cusp of the businesses merging, explains how salmon jerky ticks so many boxes for what consumers are looking for. She said:
“Salmon jerky is a really exciting new product that even after two years of producing, still pleasantly surprises and intrigues people when they discover it. We’ve wanted to create a new product for a while now that would attract a new audience and a fish based snack has helped us achieve this. Not only is it high in protein like our beef and chicken jerky products, but it is also high in Omega 3 and good fats – some key nutrients people are constantly looking to inject more of into their diet.”
With no experience of working with fish, Jennifer’s team had to start from the very beginning. Researching the process, understanding the barriers and creating an environment where they could develop the product would require support from those with expert knowledge which is where HIE stepped in. Jennifer continues:
“Up until a few years ago, we were importing all of our jerky from America, and being able to now have a plant here in the UK has allowed us to have full control over the quality of our products. At the moment, we have a meat and chicken facility in Forres and our new salmon factory is based in Grantown on Spey.
“Innovation for us means being able to offer fresh and interesting products to our customers which is how we came about producing the salmon jerky. This was a completely new journey for the team so being able to tap into the knowledge HIE offers was incomparable.”
With a new product in their portfolio, the team wanted to develop fresh branding that would open doors to a new audience and help illustrate the simple and tasty process for developing jerky and biltong.
Talking of HIE’s support, Jennifer said: “Through regular contact with the team, we were able to benefit from their breadth of knowledge, looking at everything from the production process to market research and an all new look and feel for our brand.
“We’ve recently re-branded our products, going from a western theme with fire-engine red to a new packaging that is soft and natural, with mountain ranges that reflect the local produce of creating the product here in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a huge brand change and the whole process involved around 12-months of consumer research which HIE assisted with.”
Speaking of her experience innovating, Jennifer believes it’s something every business should be incorporating. She said: “Innovation shouldn’t be something businesses are scared of. I often think there’s a lack of understanding of what it truly means to innovate but it can be as small as tweaking the way you do things or reviewing your processes.
“Innovation has allowed Meatsnacks Group to develop new products for our buyers which ultimately helped us gain extra listings and retailer opportunities. It’s also a hugely motivating factor for our staff and gives them something new to work on. Although it has been hard work it has been hugely exciting for the team to come together to create and has given us an edge over our competitors.”
Innovation is an integral part of their business plans and Meatsnacks Group are excited about what lies ahead. Jennifer said:
“With the support from HIE we now have a really fantastic array of products on offer and we’re really just at the start of our innovation journey. HIE have such a breadth of experience that we were able to take advantage of; from research to financial assistance, but it’s really their overall expertise of what it means to innovate that we truly valued.
“Innovation is a real development opportunity for the brand and the addition of the salmon products has allowed us to reach new and exciting markets that are taking Meatsnacks Group to a new level of success. We’re now looking to the future and are excited for where we can take salmon jerky next.”
Businesses looking to sign up to access HIE’s Innovate Your Business services can visit hie.co.uk/hietime or call 0300 013 5041 for expert info on what funding and innovation resources are available from HIE.
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