The R140 Million Bet That Americans Will Switch From Jerky To Biltong
24 Oct 2018 by Jasmine Stone in Business, Health, Lifestyle, Partners, Shirwood Biltong
Americans love to eat meat, and if you can crack the US market, there is big money to be made.
Perhaps that’s why financers are backing Stryve Biltong, an American company, to the tune of $10 million (around R140 million), with the startup securing a new round of funding in an attempt to ween Yanks off jerky and over to biltong.
Stryve CEO Gabe Carimi [below], a famous former American football player, is very certain that he is going to succeed.
His story was covered recently by Business Insider, and we’ll start with this quote from Gabe himself:
“In the next five years you are going to see a lot more biltong than you do jerky…Biltong is what jerky wants to be.”
Whilst Stryve recognises that biltong originated in South Africa, they’re also clear in stating that their products are “proudly sourced and produced right here in the great U.S. of A”:
Stryve Biltong was launched in November 2017. In January this year it bought Biltong USA, a company founded after the Joubert family moved to the USA 1990s, only to be dismayed at the lack of biltong in their new home country. After receiving approval from the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it grew from a North Carolina base to stores in seven more states, including New York and California.
Then, in February, Stryve bought Braaitime LLC, a company founded after Warren Pala moved his family from South Africa to New York in 2001. His previously family-owned business also sells boerewors and three-legged potjies from headquarters in New Jersey.
When those two combined, Stryve took over control of every biltong-making facility in the US.
It’s good that Gabe is confident, but it’s going to take some doing to convince Americans to make that transition. If you’re wondering about what differentiates biltong and jerky, Greatist has a list that’s worth going over:
Beef biltong starts with a slab of top round steak (the same lean, low-fat cut used for roasts and juicy steaks). It then gets coated in a mixture of spices, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Spice blends vary by type, but coriander and allspice are popular additions.
Beef jerky also starts with top round steak, but instead of getting dusted with spices, the meat usually soaks overnight in a marinade. Many marinades are high in sugar and loaded with preservatives, so if you’ve ever thought jerky tastes like candy… yeah, that’s why.
Then there’s the curing process:
Biltong meat is hung on a hook where it dries in the open air for 14 to 21 days. The secret to proper curing? Drying the meat in a warm room with low humidity.
Jerky gets popped into an oven where it bakes for a couple hours to expedite the drying process. While it cooks, temperatures often fluctuate, which gives jerky its thick, rough casing and chewy texture.
All of this greatly affects the final product:
Once the biltong is cured, it’s sliced against the grain to give it a more tender texture and uniform shape (the thin slices look a little like ribbons). It has a spicy-salty flavor with a zing of vinegar…Also, worth noting: There’s practically zero sugar in biltong.
Jerky gets sliced pre-cooking with the grain in big, long cuts, sometimes up to 18 inches long. Then it gets broken up into piecey chunks. The finished product is often a mixed bag, no pun intended: Some pieces might be chewy and juicy, others tough and dry, depending on how it was sliced and cooked.
Look, we’re South Africans and we know it’s a no contest, but good luck to Stryve in their mission to convert America.
Competition for the SA market is stiff, but you won’t do better than Shirwood Biltong. Their tasty, Halaal-friendly range, made using energy produced from solar power, use only topside cuts, which ensures texture and brittleness in the bite.
Better yet, you can have the goods delivered right to your door, and they’ve got a superb ‘Wors Wednesday’ special:
That’s two kilograms of droewors for R250. You’re not going to beat that, no matter where you look. If you’re in Cape Town, delivery is also free, and takes only one or two days, so it will arrive in time for you to watch Western Province maul the Sharks in the Currie Cup final on Saturday.
Shirwood’s online store offers a full range of biltong, droewors and Snapstix options, in case you’re going all out on the snacks.
In Cape Town, Shirwood will deliver all orders of R250 or more FOR FREE, with orders under R250 paying a R40 delivery fee.
In Gauteng and KZN, there is free delivery on all orders of R500 or more, with orders under that incurring a R55 delivery fee.
Deliveries usually take between one and two days, and as an added bonus, you can actually track your delivery online. Shirwood will send a label number via email or SMS once the order is on its way, and you then enter that label number here to stay clued up.
You’re welcome to keep on chewing on jerky (just nowhere near us, please), or some biltong you snapped up at the petrol station on your way home from work (you’re better than that), but not for us, thanks.
We’ll be eating the good stuff.