CHICAGO — First things first: The Hershey Co. is not launching a chocolate meat bar, despite what recent headlines may have suggested, said Anna Lingeris, senior manager of communications at Hershey. Set to debut in August, Krave Bar represents the first innovation to come out of Hershey’s partnership with Krave Pure Foods, the Sonoma, Calif.-based meat jerky company it acquired last year. Available in four flavors, the product combines dried fruit and quinoa with turkey, beef or pork — and absolutely no chocolate.
|Anna Lingeris, senior manager of communications at Hershey
“If you think about the meat bar, well, yes, probably ‘meat’ and ‘bar’ don’t often go in the same sentence together, but our core skill set for the past 120 years has been making bars of something,” Ms. Lingeris told Food Business News. “So we’re taking the insights and knowledge we have in making traditional chocolate bars or other types of candy bars and applying them to a new (product category).”
At Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 24-26 in Chicago, Hershey sampled the Krave Bar line, which features such flavors as chipotle cherry beef, cranberry thyme turkey, mango jalapeño pork and wild blueberry barbecue beef.
Krave was founded in 2009 and emerged as a leader in the premium jerky category. What set the company apart from competitors in the category were the unique flavor varieties it offered, such as black cherry barbecue pork, basil citrus turkey and chili lime beef. In January 2015, Hershey acquired the company for $218.7 million, but Krave was planning to introduce a bar format long before, said Rebecca Etter, innovation marketing manager for Krave.
|Rebecca Etter, innovation marketing manager for Krave
“We had a lot of the original tinkerers on the program stay actively involved and engaged and still at the plant running samples, tasting them to make sure they were up to the standards that we want, and we’ve been able to pair that with the resources at Hershey and the minds at Hershey to really make this product perfect,” Ms. Etter told Food Business News. “(Hershey has) been involved. As soon as the acquisition was announced and we were able to be working together, we did. We were lockstep on this. It’s actually a perfect example of something that both teams came together as one team for, and it’ll be the first of a lot of work we’re doing at Hershey with Krave.”
In addition to partnering in innovation, Krave has benefited from Hershey’s broad distribution network, Ms. Lingeris said.
“We have a wonderful, massive sales force that is pounding the pavement each and every day,” she said. “How do we take the insights and knowledge from our core customers and apply it to that brand and allow them to have larger opportunities to sell their products so more and more people see it?
“Even in the last year with Krave, I’m seeing it more and more at airports where they offer on-the-go snacking and treats. So we’re able to help with that distribution. That’s one of the things that has been key in the relationship.”
Krave operates independently out of its Sonoma headquarters, Ms. Lingeris added.
“The communications team and the team out at Krave are very close,” she said. “We work very complementary together. How can we leverage our contacts and assets to help them, and how can they bring a new and challenger way of thinking to us? It’s really a harmonious relationship we have going.”Added Ms. Etter, “We’re working with our field marketing team, and we have since launch, and now we’re pairing it with the power and minds of the sales guys and the wonderful rich network and experience that Hershey has, and together really bringing our brand to a larger audience in an authentic way. It’s been very much celebrating what made Krave special and pairing with a team to work to create the next step of Krave.”