Latest Simply Unique Foods News
Dec 29, 2016
Bowdeya Tweh , email@example.com Published 12:02 a.m. ET Dec. 28, 2016 | Updated 12:00 p.m. ET Dec. 28, 2016 CLOSE x Share With a new year comes goals and resolutions. Many people resolve to lose weight and get into shape, but TheStreet put together a few financial related New Year's resolutions that you can actually stick to in 2017. Newslook Buy Photo Steve Hofford, head of Simply Unique Snacks, has bought the Camp Washington, local food producer who makes Wild Joe's Beef Jerky. Wild Joe's can be found in UDF, Kroger and Jungle Jims but Hofford is hoping to expand. (Photo: Amanda Rossmann, The Enquirer/Amanda Rossmann)Buy Photo 545 CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE Wild Joe's Beef Jerky has a new owner, but don't expect changes that could upset the 26-year-old brand's loyal regional following. Cincinnati-based company Simply Unique Foods closed a deal in December to buy Wild Joe’s from the Lachenman family. Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Founded in 1990 by former butcher and grocery store owner “Wild Joe” Lachenman, the brand is one of the top selling jerkies in Kroger and United Dairy Farmers. Wild Joe's is produced in a facility off Spring Grove Avenue in Camp Washington. Lachenman declined to disclose the brand's revenue, although he said sales are up by "double digits" for the last five years. Take the news with you. Download the Cincinnati.com app on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Lachenman, his wife and children – including his son, Iraq War veteran Micah Gaunt – will continue to be involved with the company. Wild Joe's has five employees and produces about 1,000 pounds, or a half-ton, of jerky per week. “We’ve had a heck of a ride over the past 26 years, and we think Steve and his team are the ones to bring Wild Joe’s to even greater heights,” Lachenman said. “Steve gets us, and we trust him with our legacy. Our fans can rest assured that Wild Joe’s will always be Wild Joe’s.” Steve Hofford, president of Simply Unique Foods, wants to use his company’s distribution and marketing capabilities to grow the Wild Joe’s brand. Hofford said he wants to explore partnerships and cross-promotion opportunities with other legacy Cincinnati brands. Think jerky infused with the flavors of Rhinegeist beer or a Skyline Chili. While Hofford's business is based in the region, the company has food production operations in Louisville in addition to Pennsylvania and Texas. Simply Unique Foods products include the Calamity Jane and Lone Star beef jerky brands among others. Wild Joe's has been produced in the same Camp Washington facility since 1997, but the former sausage plant has limitations. Hofford said there could be an opportunity to expand production of Wild Joe's locally or in other sites his company owns. “Wild Joe’s is a phenomenal brand and an even better story,” Hofford said. “Costumers don’t want Wild Joe’s to change and we don’t, either. We just want to make sure more people get to enjoy it.” Finding a winner in the jerky business It's a good time to be in the jerky business, Hofford said. Americans' cravings for protein, on-the-go eats and natural products makes the business ripe for investment. A Fortune magazine headline from 2015 likened jerky's popularity to cupcakes in terms of sales growth and investment from the biggest brands in the space. And with their high-protein content, some jerky products are even being marketed to target health-conscious consumers. Brands such as Jack Link's, Krave and ConAgra's Slim Jim are among the biggest players in the jerky space. But Hofford and Lachenman said there's room for a regional brand to win customers and out-compete those larger players. Smaller brands, just like larger one, are developing unique flavors and there's an opportunity for experimentation, Hofford said. But even with new flavors, it all starts out with lean beef round sourced from local providers that is marinated in Wild Joe's proprietary mix of liquid and dry ingredients. After the meat is dried, smoked and cooked, the resulting product is a flat, dry and seasoned beef fragment. But those beef pieces are low in calories and fat, have a sodium content similar to potato chips and contain no sugar. Current Wild Joe's flavors include "natural," hot, cajun and lemon pepper among others. "You've got a winner here," Hofford said. "It can be a regional powerhouse. We'd like it to be the regional brand."