DALLAS – Ask founding family rancher of Coleman Natural Meats, Mel Coleman, Jr., to describe the experience of collaborating with Budweiser Beer on a line of barbecue sauces and meat products and he'll say, “Now, that was fun.”

Coleman Natural Foods unveiled the partnership during the 2019 Meat Conference in Dallas where potential retail customers sampled the product line which includes infused barbecue sauces, pre-cooked St. Louis-style ribs, beer brats and other pork products. The partnership between the two brands is a serious endeavor aimed at reinvigorating the retail prepared meats segment.

“It was a collaboration of two iconic American brands that came together to disrupt a stagnant category for the retailers," said Bart Vittori, general manager of Coleman Natural Meats. “With the category at just 0.7 percent growth, just names would change of brands, but there was no growth; there was nothing to trigger more interest in the category.”

Vittori explained that the combination of Coleman’s all-natural pork — which is produced with no added hormones and no antibiotics — and Budweiser, which has enviable brand recognition, would generate interest across generations. But the product line also checks a lot of boxes next to must-have attributes in demand by millennials.

Citing data from market research firm Accenture, Coleman Natural noted that millennials represent more than 80 million consumers with annual spending power of $600 billion. “They are our largest buying group,” Vittori said. “They buy frozen, processed, ready-to-eat foods and putting an iconic beer brand like Budweiser with...the first crate-free pork company in the United States certified by the USDA and by third-party certification from American Humane, we find that these are products that are going to be very to beat in the market place.”

Quality is a keystone of this partnership. Coleman Natural brings high-quality pork sourced from crate-free hogs that are raised according to the Five Freedoms standards supported by American Humane. Anheuser Busch implements stringent standards for their hops and other ingredients that go into Budweiser products.

“It works really well for us, and to come out with items that...actually disrupt the category like the six pack that we have for special holidays, and the family-friendly items, or two-person household items, there’s not a household we cannot service with what we’ve done,” Vittori said.

The first product launch is scheduled after April 29 in time for Memorial Day. “We'll have a big successful summer with Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day which aligns with the Budweiser Americana holidays,” Vittori said.

As of March 4, Coleman Natural had booked 2,000 national retailers to carry the Budweiser brats, Vittori said, adding that he expects to see continued growth as the year progresses.

“There are a lot of beer sausages out there, but the fact of the matter is, this is Budweiser,” Vittori said. “This is not like a lot of beers; this is Budweiser. The reaction that we’ve gotten from people so far at the show and in private meetings is exactly those words — This. Is. Budweiser.”