When Brands Re-Brand!

Who remembers when Opal Fruits crossed the picket line and became Starburst? When Marathon Bars left the track and became Snickers? Or when Oil of Ulay shocked us all by becoming Olay? Brands rebrand all the time. Sometimes it’s a simple refresh to remain relevant or signal a slight change in direction and sometimes it’s a complete departure from the name and the established brand. I’m sure that none of these decisions were made lightly and I’m sure every concept and subtle nuance were focus-grouped to within an inch of their life – it’s a big deal right. Businesses can spend vast sums of money building brand assets and equity so it’s not an easy decision to go back to the drawing board; however sometimes it may be absolutely necessary.

This post takes me back to the theme of brand building for food businesses. I’m not going to talk about the food itself (although it is awesome) because I’ve written a number of posts in the past about my love of jerky and biltong; instead this post is going critique the decisions on rebranding that Meat Snacks Group recently implement across their range…enjoy!

Wild West Jerky & Cruga Biltong

northernmunkeebites.wildwestjerkyoldWhat was wrong with the old branding?

Well, nothing really. It has good shelf impact. It’s simple. It has traditional and trusted cues that are relevant to the food. It has a window to allow the shopper to see the food. The brand has been careful to call out important nutritional information: protein and no nasties. So, what’s the big deal? My criticism of this platform is that it’s a bit brash, bold and dated. Although it does a lot of good things a brand needs to remain relevant to its audience and if there’s a shift in who that is then the brand needs to address that.

Was there a need to rebrand?

Yes. The meat snacking market in the UK has moved on significantly in the last three years and the target audience has shifted. When I was still active and playing sport I was the typical jerky and biltong consumer: a gym junky with a need for a high protein (yet tasty) snack. Although this consumer still exists there is a swell of early-adopting foodies that are coming to the table. So if the paradigm has moved brands need to move too.

What’s so good about the new branding?

Well, firstly it’s being considerate of the new paradigm with dialled down but still northernmunkeebites.jerkyrebrandappropriate imagery and colour palette. Big tick. Secondly, it’s kept all the good parts of the old branding and it’s managed to maintain a sufficient number of the old brand assets that it won’t completely alienate the brand’s existing fan base. Finally, the branding has morphed subtly into being more appropriate; what was ‘solid strips of marinated smoked beef’ has become ‘beef silverside marinated, smoked and cooked’. Lovely stuff!

Could they have done anything differently?

No, I don’t think they could. If the aim was to develop a brand that didn’t completely alienate existing users but would excite and intrigue new users then: job done!

Verdict – in a word, boom! If you’re Meat Snacks Group you’ve got to be really chuffed with this. It’s been a bit under the radar (much like the new imagery) but it has reacted to competition in the marketplace and stolen a march at the front again. Well played!

Northern Munkee.


Private & Exclusive!

Product Review: Privateer Jerky

So here we are again – another meat snack review and I love it! There is a whole world of outstanding meat snacks from the UK now and I won’t be happy until I’ve worked my way through the lot!

Once again this is a very different meat snack to anything I’ve tried before. We’re now into the realms of premium jerky…

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: meat snackers, jerky fans and those with a sophisticated palate


The packaging is really simple. A well presented card detailing the premium branding sewn to a vacuum packed, meat pillow! And what more do you need?


£4.00 (40g bag) – now this is the most expensive of the meat snacks I reviewed but £4.00  for a premium snack doesn’t break the bank and you can tell from the packaging the look of it that you won’t be disappointed!


So what’s different about this meat snack? Well you get quality chunks of fantastic quality meat that has been cared for and smoked over Applewood to create a elegant undertone that permeates the whole snack.

Black Jack ‘The Mild One’

The smoked wood notes lay the foundations that are built on by a sweet black treacle which melts slowly into the soy flavours to leave a sweet, aniseed hint as the smoke creeps around your mouth. Enchanting!

Jolly Red ‘The Hot One’

This is fantastic! There is the familiar introduction of the smoke but then the sweet notes and the chilli heat begin to waltz with each other. The heat isn’t overpowering but it builds and sits on the tongue.

Verdict – in a word, exclusive! This is unlike any of the other meat snacks that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. It is more premium, cared for and more exclusive. It’s the difference between a cigar and a great cigar. There are layers of subtle flavours that gang up on your taste buds and ambush them in a symphony of premium tastes. Great work Privateer!

Details: http://www.privateerjerky.com/

Northern Munkee.

My Real (ale) Friend

Product Review: Cleaver and Keg

So, here I am reviewing another meat snack – it’s a hard life being a Food Adventurer!

I now consider myself somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to meat snacking having reviewed a number of different biltongs and jerkies and understood the subtle nuances of the process that have a huge impact on the flavour delivery. The meat snacks market has now left the likes of Pepparami in its dust and matured to cater for a more sophisticated and premium palate.

I have previously referenced how far behind the UK market is in comparison to our European counterparts but we’re catching up and (thankfully) we’re going our own way. Europe’s meat lust sways towards high salt and pork products which hasn’t translated well in the UK other than in specialist outlets. The UK foodie seems to have picked up South African and American meat snacking habits and run with them with sales on jerky alone growing by 52.9% YOY according to The Grocer magazine. As with all booming trends diversification is high which has lead to the development of meat snacking products using meat other than beef.

So what’s driving the trend? Well it seems as though it’s the fitness movement. Meat snacks have a fantastic protein to fat ratio and also easily lend themselves to countless free-froms making meat snacks a very permissible treat. For the same reason the category, quite uniquely, transcends any gender preference with a good proportion of females also buying into the new trend.

This perfect storm of health and flavour has spiked interest amongst the hipster communities who are searching for something different to accompany their newfound love of hoppy IPAs. So we can see a decline in the urine-clad bowls of peanuts and garish bags of Mr Porky’s replaced in real ale pubs by olive wood platters of well-seasoned meat snacks. Which leads, nicely, into my review…

Rating: 9.5/10

Appeals to: free-from revolutionaries, hipsters, protein-junkies and beer lovers!


I’m a big fan of this packaging. It’s bang on trend and is very well positioned to sit beside a bottle of premium, real ale. The wax paper bag and old-world imagery conjures up quality and premium connotations with is complimented well by a characterful narrative on the back of pack. I think this is possibly the best example I’ve seen from a meat snacks company in terms of communicating the brand personality on pack; it’s quirky, it’s personable, it’s friendly, it’s brilliant.


£2.50 (45g bag) – you could argue that this is a little steep but if you compare it to the premium jerky option in a mainstream supermarket which retails for £2 then it’s not so bad. Plus in this category you really do get what you pay for. I’d be questioning any ‘meat’ snack that sold for much less than £1.50.


The whole Cleaver and Keg brand ethos is about complimenting drinks, with their tag line being ‘Meaty Morsels for the Modern Drinker’, so, naturally, I had to oblige and enjoy these snacks with a 7.4% dry cider…

Chorizo Cuts

Just wow! These little bites are beautifully chewy, well-seasoned with a creamy opening that gave way to a soft but deep paprika note that lingers on the tongue.

Strips O Beef

I’ll be honest, I went into this bag expecting jerky or biltong – I was wrong to do that! These are beautiful strips of chewy, tender and creamy beef that just melt with each bite.

Hot Strips O Beef

Now, imagine the flavour above but intensified with heat. I can handle my spice well but what started off as a warming hug quickly developed into a slap to the chops as I devoured the bag. I think I’m in love!

Salami Bites

Here is the snack that is most akin to the European trend in terms of flavour profile, however it couldn’t be more detached in delivery. It’s light, salty, herby and not greasy at all. A brilliant snack!

Verdict – in a word, amorous! Cleaver and Keg have produced something different to anything else on the market that I’ve seen and I love it. It is the perfect partner to a pale ale or dry cider and I think I’ve found friends for life. I think you’ve just found yourself a new best customer!

Details: http://www.cleaverandkeg.co.uk/

Northern Munkee.

Meat Treats…

Product Review: King’s Snacks

Meat snacking in the UK is still in its infancy when compared to what’s on offer in other markets not so far away, however it’s becoming more and more popular. The market is, relatively speaking, wide open with Jack Links and The Jerky Group leading the way but acting quite complacently. In my opinion, this makes the category really exciting as it gives smaller producers a good chance to offer something different to the consumer and, quickly, build traction.

Jerky and biltong are both varieties of popular meat snacks that differ in origin and only slightly in preparation. Jerky originates from America and is smoke-cooked at a very low temperature. It is usually very sweet and can be quite tough (although it doesn’t have to be like the bottom of your shoe). Biltong hails from South Africa and is cured, air-dried meat. Biltong tends to be a little softer and more flavoursome.

The story from the guys at King’s Snacks resonates with me as I got into jerky and biltong when I was taking my rugby seriously. It’s a great, healthy way to get protein into your body and is much more effective than a lot of the meal replacement shakes that you see those fellas who look like they’re carrying carpets drinking in the gym! King’s Snacks is a brand supported by three rugby-playing brothers and backed by Mike Tindall so the nutritional benefits are inherent within this business.

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: health-conscious snackers, athletes and just about anybody on the move


The packaging is very clever. It’s very clean and crisp which reflects the natural product inside. This product’s packaging also demonstrates a departure from the cowboy or South African bull that seems to adorn any other packet of jerky and biltong from other kindred companies. The portion size is small but it’s inline with the marketplace.


£1.99 – this is more expensive than the market leaders but this does two things: sets it apart as a more premium eat and also drives cash back into the snacking category, which is something that it desperately needs.


Rib Eye Biltong

This is just heaven! The wetter the better for me! It looks as good as it tastes. It’s so soft and succulent that you could believe it had just been carved. It isn’t too peppery or salty but the seasoning is just right.

Pork Jerky

Now this is a relatively new one on me, I hadn’t had pork jerky before but, based on how good the biltong is, I was willing to give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike the biltong this was very sweet but the meat was very tender and fibrous. I wouldn’t eat this all the time as a snack but it’s a great treat option.

Beef Jerky

This is the real acid test – does it stack up against the lower-priced market leaders? It blows the spots off them! Jack Links and The Jerky Group both have a really tough product that would make a cowboy’s eyes water with the strain of chewing; this jerky really doesn’t. It’s not as soft as the biltong so it does require some bite but it’s very recognisably beef.

Verdict –  in a word, superb! This may sound a little ridiculous but not all jerky and biltong products resemble, in flavour or appearance, the meat from which they are produced. There’s no doubt in the King’s Snack product. So if you’re looking for a healthier snacking option or just a tastier snacking option I suggest you give Mike Tindall a call!

Details: http://www.kingselitesnacks.co.uk

Northern Munkee.