Rustic Jerky: more revolutionary new flavors to come

We could be doing special flavors or seasonal flavors like Christmas flavors or turkey stuffing

The flavors inside bags of Rustic Jerky, a new health superfood snack, couldn’t be more opposite. On one end of the spectrum are Smokin’ Ghost and Habenero and Lime, two extremely hot and spicy flavors. Smokin’ Ghost in particular shocks the senses and leaves a burn on your tongue long after you’ve swallowed the jerky. On the other end of the spectrum is the Honey Barbeque, a sweet tangy flavor that doesn’t require any water to cool you down after taking a bite. There’s no flavor in the middle, yet.

The two founders of Rustic Jerky, which has only been operational since September, are planning to expand the brand and introduce various new flavors which co-founder Mark Daly says will “nestle in-between the current flavors.” Rustic Jerky will likely be introducing the first of these flavors in late summer or early fall, after they’ve had a chance to test it. While they haven’t revealed the full range planned to be released, they have hinted that the next flavor will probably be a Moroccan style curry flavor or a Mexican Chipotle flavor. “One of the things that I think really sets us apart are our unique flavor profiles,” Mark added. “They really are unique, you don’t find them anywhere.” They also hinted that there would be a flavor in the near future that pulls from Vietnamese food culture.

“The Vietnamese culture in Czech Republic is massive and there are restaurants all over the place,” Mark said. “The flavor concept is already there, so bringing a jerky side to that is definitely something we want to go after as well.”

The hardest part for Rustic Jerky isn’t coming up with the new flavors and ideas, but rather gaining acceptance for the concept of jerky itself. “It still very much has this negative perception of American-style jerky with loads of sodium and lots of preservatives,” he said. “But we really want to do the healthier side of jerky. We absolutely consider ourselves a health product first and foremost. The benefits of a lean protein are absolutely fantastic.”

Rustic Jerky aims to make a product that has the same amount of protein offered in protein bars, meat dishes and protein shakes, without the added sugar, fat or preparation time. This makes it ideal for an active person who needs easy protein, explaining why many of the brand’s ambassadors are top athletes going for world records such as bikers, mushers and even power lifters.

“During bench press meets you don't have all the time to sit down and have a meal that you can easily digest,” said Leroy Walker, a champion power lifter who has Rustic Jerky’s products to be sent all the way to America. “The meat is of high quality and a great source of protein. It's fresh and doesn't require heating up. The super high quality is what makes the jerky worth it. Low quality jerky is no good.”

With spring just around the corner, Mark anticipates that Rustic Jerky’s rapid success will only continue to grow as more people participate in outdoor exercise activities. Consuming beef jerky isn’t restricted just to the athletic world however. “Our product fits anywhere” he said. For example, Daly explained that Rustic Jerky makes a great school snack for children “because it’s healthy and easy to pack.” The jerky can also be put on crackers with cheese or can become a part of wine or beer tastings. One of Mark’s favorite ways to consume the jerky however is to “empty a bag into a bowl with sliced green onion, sliced carrots and mushrooms and then pour in some boiling water to make a quick and healthy soup.” This soup works with any of the flavors, but he likes it best with Smokin’ Ghost.

Of course, this could be because Smokin’ Ghost is his favorite flavor, which comes from the Indian Bhut jolokia Ghost Pepper and which is smoked. Coming from a family that loves spicy foods from various world cuisines, Mark has acquired a special love of spicy foods. “When I pick up a bag of something and it says hot, I expect it to be hot” he said. “There aren’t really enough hot foods out there I think so we’re sort of adding on to that,” Mark added.

Daly’s co-founder, Phillip Press couldn’t be more opposite of him though, and prefers the Honey Barbecue flavor. While Mark’s focus is on sales, marketing and public relations side of the business, Phil’s work is more operational, and the business is booming. “Basically as soon as we’re making this stuff it’s going out the door,” Press said. “It’s actually going a lot faster than I anticipated”

Press also hinted at more surprise products coming down the pipelines for the future. “We could be doing special flavors or seasonal flavors like Christmas flavors or turkey stuffing,” he said. This type of entrepreneurial spirit is a continuation of Rustic Jerky’s origins.

Mark first started making beef jerky for himself at home after years of asking friends to buy it for him in the States and experimented in his kitchen with a wide variety of flavors. After meeting each other through a mutual friend, Phil urged Mark to make his homemade jerky available commercially. The duo put their heads together and 18 months later, Rustic Jerky was born.

Their aim isn’t just to be a beef jerky business however. They are building a brand, and will offer a variety of healthy protein snacks. “We’ve thought about using other proteins such as Wild Boar meat and we’re definitely planning to introduce venison in the future,” Mark said. As for other products they plan to offer, Mark’s lips are sealed for now. Apparently, they will be revolutionary. “I just can’t tell you what they will be, because they currently don’t exist yet” he said.

In the meantime, both cofounders are hoping that customers enjoy the jerky as much as they do. Mark, who always carries some jerky in this bag, said, “There’s a little bit of love in every bag because we really love what we do.”

The popularity of their flavors, even the Smokin’ Ghost, is undeniable. The company is growing in double digits every month and taking on additional staff was necessary to keep up with demand. “The funny thing to me is that even people who initially think they can’t handle the heat from the Smokin’ Ghost always go back for another piece,” Mark said. “You can’t help but go back for another piece.”

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Rustic Jerky: Superfood for Carnivores - Prague.TV 14.10.2015

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