Hershey Buys Beef Jerky Company: Chocolate Jerky Coming To A Store Near You?

Hershey is now in the beef jerky business, the company’s first purchase that is not candy-related. Reuters reports that the chocolate company recently jumped on the meat snack bandwagon, purchasing Krave, a company that makes “artisinal beef jerky” for more than $200 million.

Now that Hershey has sealed the deal, will chocolate jerky be coming to a store near you? Sorry, chocolate lovers, it doesn’t look like you’ll be snacking on chocolate flavored jerky in the foreseeable future. Krave CEO Jonathan Sebastiani tells CNNMoney that, while beef jerky dipped in chocolate is indeed delicious, the company has no plans to make it.

“I’m very comfortable with exploring new flavors… [Hershey’s acquisition] speaks volumes to how much the [meat snack] category has changed and perhaps even more intriguing about what the future might bring.”

Sebastiani states that Krave is going going to stick to the quirky flavors they already sell — including black cherry barbeque, basil citrus, chardonnay thyme, and cabernet rosemary — but he’s open to “exploring new flavors” — but apparently not chocolate.

If the event that the company changes its mind and decides to add chocolate to the gourmet jerky flavor line-up, customers will be able to enjoy it with a cup of coffee at their local Starbucks. The Press Democrat reports that Krave will start testing out their gourmet jerky in select Starbucks stores in February.

“Beef jerky has made a comeback in recent years as Americans turn to higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate snacks. Jerky hits on other key trends driving the way people eat. It is portable and can come in many flavors.”

In addition to adding jerky to the snack menu at Starbucks, Krave plans to put their hat in the protein snack food ring by creating a meat bar, similar to a high-end granola bar. For some reason, a meat bar doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but time will tell.

Why jerky? Bottom line: it sells. The Press Democrat reports that jerky sales in the U.S. totaled $1.41 billion last year, an increase of 13 percent from 2013 and 22 percent from 2012.

Hershey Company president Michele Buck states in the company’s press release that Krave is a “great fit” to the company’s portfolio.

“KRAVE jerky is a great fit to our portfolio and overall snacks and adjacencies strategy. The KRAVE brand delivers on portable and protein nutrition while also understanding consumers’ food preferences… We are excited to add KRAVE jerky’s unique, chef-inspired products and be a part of this transformational category.”

Krave is currently headquartered in Sonoma, California, and has no plans to move in with Hershey’s North America division in Pennsylvania. Instead, the jerky business business will remain in California, where it was founded in 2009 by Sebastiani, who is also a California winemaker.

The exact value of the Hershey jerky deal is not known, but Reuters speculates that Krave was purchased for between $200 and $300 million.

[Image: Press Democrat]