By IvyLee Rosario
Meat snacks have been known as a quick and healthy grab and go item when on the road or looking to fill an appetite, but with the popularity of beef hitting a plateau, new meats and flavors are being introduced to the industry. “These buyers want something new, something different,” said Marvin Cromwell, founder of Pearson Ranch Elk & Buffalo Jerky. Marvin’s Great Uncle Ken Pearson founded Pearson Ranch in 1959. Marvin is part of the Pearson bloodline and 3rd generation to run the Pearson Ranch’s cattle business. The elk jerky business started in 2000, when Marvin fenced part of the Pearson Ranch off to start raising Elk and began selling the products to sporting goods stores like Bass Pro and Cabelas. The idea of getting into the Direct Store Delivery jerky business was brought up in 2012 by Marvin’s son Matt, and Pearson’s decided to give it a shot and try and set up stores with spinner display racks full of their products. In two days, they had eight stores and Matt had started building the DSD program. “Now we have distribution across the United States in one form or another. Either direct store delivery, ship in, or through independent distributors. It started primarily in the west until this year, now it is spreading like wildfire.”
The selling of meat snacks make up 18.5% of total salty snack sales in convenience stores, making the jerky business a highly sought after industry to participate in. Although beef jerky remains the preferred jerky of U.S. consumers, options like deer, elk and buffalo are growing in popularity. “Our most popular products are the Elk jerky and Buffalo,” remarked Marvin, “and now we just introduced new products like Buffalo Jalapeño, Wild Boar, and Venison.” Sold in retailers such as Bass Pro Shops, Stripes, Road Ranger and over 500 independent retailers, Pearson’s jerky is growing at a rapid pace.
The company not only offers an array of flavors and meats to choose from, but they also pride themselves on their individuality. “We separate ourselves from the competitors because we not only sell to larger stores but smaller retailers as well,” avers Marvin. All products are USDA inspected and are shelf stable. Pearson’s complete line up now includes, Elk, Buffalo, Venison and Wild Boar in the form of Jerky, Snack Sticks and Summer Sausages. All products are natural, with no nitrates or gluten, and are MSG free which makes them a very healthy snack.
With the future of the company looking bright, Marvin hopes to continue expanding the business’ direct store distributions nationwide. “We have changed our recipes and revamped our line up, so now health food stores are also interested in our product.” Pearson’s is well known for their quality and customer service. Orders ship in less than three days and if there is anything wrong with the order they will issue a replacement or a full refund. “We are now being recognized on a larger scale. These different meat categories are starting to catch on in the total jerky market. My plan is to have the business be in an even more successful place in five years, so I can retire and let my kid’s run it. Then I will be able to do what I enjoy the most – continue to raise the Elk and Buffalo on the ranch.”