Like most individuals in a start-up company, we find ourselves up to our ears in to-do lists each day. There are certain things, though, that will halt that flurry of activity and push us to reconnect with our mission and hopes for the future. Last Wednesday, we were stopped in our tracks when we learned that General Mills had acquired EPIC Provisions, a fellow purveyor of premium meat snacks based in Austin.
Why did this stop us in our tracks? First, because it was a bigger indication of the awesome growth the meat-based snacks category is experiencing. Second, we found ourselves asking if we’d want the same thing; if we’d want to be acquired by a larger company, or even just secure large investments from outside firms.
You may have heard about Hershey’s acquisition of KRAVE Pure Foods in January of last year, which was similar to the news about EPIC. Together, these acquisitions validate the trend and demand we’ve anticipated for nutrient-dense, meat-based, convenient snacks made with the best ingredients. It’s amazing to learn that our category will reach $3 billion in sales in 2016, which also means there’s no shortage of opportunity for brands large and small to compete. That being said, we do not believe all meat snacks are created equal. We do believe it’s our responsibility to make snacks that satisfy not only our taste buds, but also the deeper needs of our bodies and the planet.
As we’ve shared many times on our blog before, we created Wild Zora out of necessity. As an active family with two children, we struggled to find savory, protein-rich snacks to fuel our fun that weren’t full of sugar, preservatives or other yucky additives. Inspired by the Paleo and Primal meals we made for dinner as a family, we begin experimenting with combinations of dehydrated grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and organic veggies to create snacks that kept us feeling energized and satiated, and that steered us clear of debilitating sugar crashes. After nearly a year of testing our recipes, Wild Zora was born and we now proudly offer five different flavors of The Original Meat & Veggie Bar®.
We are taking the news of this acquisition as a personal challenge to continue making our bars from all the good stuff and none of the bad, like free-range/grass-fed meats, organic veggies, dried fruits and bold spices. We also remain committed to sourcing many of our ingredients from local farmers and ranchers like Bowers Farm and Sun Prairie Ranch. You won’t ever find growth hormones, sugar, preservatives or additives in our bars. The result? A snack as nature intended that’s not only perfect for families like ours, but also, to our delight, a nutrient-rich and delicious option for people on a Paleo or Primal diet; endurance athletes; those eating foods that are gluten-free, soy free, nut free, nightshades free or that fit into an autoimmune protocol diet (AIP). We’re thrilled to share that later this year we’ll also be introducing two new products, including a second AIP-compliant flavor and a Taco Turkey flavor of our meat and veggie bars. Delish!
We also want to take a moment to acknowledge that there are many paths to growth as a natural foods company. The founders of EPIC, Katie and Taylor, shared in a blog post that they are hoping their decision to sell EPIC to General Mills will help influence change within General Mills, and also positively impact large-scale grassland restoration; further create a need for pasture-raised animals; and increase the availability of EPIC’s nourishing food to consumers.
We are excited to grow and can’t wait for our bars to be available to the masses, but to us, ever-more-important than fast growth is our commitment to creating products made from ingredients we are proud to stand behind, and that provide our customers with the best, healthy and delicious snacks. We believe it’s possible to influence changes in our food system as a smaller producer, and we take this news as a challenge to continue to grow in the way that best suits us – as a family-owned and operated company that does not have to answer to investors or shareholders. We are so proud that in our short time in business we are already available in Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers stores throughout the Rocky Mountain Region, 100 independent retailers across the U.S., and will soon be available in Lunds & Byerlys stores in the Midwest! We are looking forward to a big year of growth, and we hope you will continue to support us on this exciting journey.
To the Future!