4505 Chicharrones CEO and founder Ryan Farr believes that clean, protein-packed meat snacks aren’t limited to the jerky aisle of your convenience store anymore.
Since launching in 2011, the San Francisco-based pork rind maker has worked to premiumize a category that consumers have historically viewed as unhealthy and full of preservatives. The brand started in grocery, borrowing flavor profiles and branding strategies from better-for-you jerky brands, but now they’re also looking to capitalize on convenience by winning over new pork rind customers as well as the channel’s stereotypical “Bubba” consumer. The shift in focus comes as the brand closes a round through online fundraising platform CircleUp, which was announced earlier this week.
4505 is not the only brand to see opportunity in the space. During last month’s National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show in Chicago, Ill., both Jack Links and Field Trip Jerky announced their expansion into the pork rind category. Field Trip founding partner Tom Donigan told NOSH their Crispy Cuts will launch with three flavors — Parmesan Peppercorn, Sweet Chipotle and Island BBQ — in over 2,000 stores.
“We wanted the branding to feel familiar to someone who regularly purchases potato chips, but wanted it to stand out on the shelf from our pork rind competition,” Donigan said. “We think that the Crispy Cuts branding will really convey that this is not your typical pork rind. Our messaging and imagery will help consumers understand the health attributes.”
Jack Links and Field Trip also both noted their products were developed based on customer feedback and, upon launch, will focus on the convenience channel.
Whether just entering the space or pioneering it, Farr emphasized that consumer education is key to the success of all pork rinds brands, especially natural brands, when it comes to convenience. In this interview with NOSH recorded at NACS, he discussed how he’s educating consumers about premium pork rinds, why consumers want natural options in c-stores and how the category fits into convenience retailers’ overall commitment to making healthier options more accessible. Watch the video above to hear what Farr had to say.