Epic Provisions debuts jerky snack sticks

by Monica Watrous
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Epic's latest innovation is a range of premium jerky snack strips.

AUSTIN, Texas — Epic Provisions has had an epic year. In 2016, the meat snack company launched 12 new products, nearly tripled the size of its team, opened a new warehouse in Austin, grew top-line revenue 2.6 times, added more than 16,000 points of distribution and was acquired by General Mills.

“Things moved so fast this year that we didn’t really appreciate how much we had accomplished until the end of the year when we started talking as a team,” said Taylor Collins, who co-founded Epic Provisions with wife Katie Forrest in 2013. “‘What are you proud about? What made you happy this year?’ When we started to write down all of these things, we thought, ‘Wow, we did accomplish a lot.’ It wasn’t by any means all easy.”

Epic is debuting its latest innovation, a range of premium jerky snack strips, at the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 22-24 in San Francisco. Varieties include Wagyu Beef, Venison Salt Pepper, Smoked Salmon Maple and Turkey Cranberry Sage. Inspired by a convenience store staple, the strip format may be more familiar to mainstream consumers than the brand’s original line of meat bars, Collins said.

Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, founders of Epic.

“It’s definitely more mass friendly right off the bat,” Collins told Food Business News, a sister publication to MEAT+POULTRY. “It’s a more familiar form for our product to be presented in, but we’re still trying to do things with meats that people might not be exposed to, like venison and wagyu beef. We’re doing an early three-month exclusive with Whole Foods, but this product is definitely bigger than the natural foods set.”

Another accomplishment of the past year was the development of the Whole Animal Initiative, a nose-to-tail effort that has spurred the introduction of such products as bone broth, animal cooking fat, beef liver snack bites and pork rinds. The company also purchased more than 200,000 lbs. of regeneratively raised animal meat, creating a positive impact on the environment and, as Collins wrote in a recent blog post on the company website, “changing the narrative on ‘sustainability’ at the executive level of one of the world’s largest food companies.”

In an interview, Collins discussed Epic’s whirlwind pace of product development, emerging competition in the premium jerky category and the company’s first year as a subsidiary of General Mills.

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