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How The New Primal expanded from beef jerky to kid-friendly meat sticks and low-sugar condiments

How The New Primal expanded from beef jerky to kid-friendly meat sticks and low-sugar condiments
February 2024

Founder Jason Burke recently launched sister company, Noble Made



A kid-friendly version of Jason Burke's meat sticks.

About 11 years ago, Jason Burke’s wife, Kristin, gave him an ultimatum. She’d come home from a night out with friends who had commented that she smelled like a barbecue joint. At the time, their family kitchen on Daniel Island was filled with six dehydrators, making beef jerky for Burke’s fledgling business. “It was time to get out of the kitchen,” Burke says. 

These days The New Primal—which has evolved from beef jerky to meat sticks, spices, condiments, and sauces—has national contracts with Publix, Whole Foods, Harris-Teeter, and Kroger with at least 60,000 placements on retail shelves. Now, Burke outsources production to contract manufacturers in the Midwest while maintaining the headquarters on Daniel Island. 

The Florida native began The New Primal after both of his parents were diagnosed with chronic illnesses that were linked to their diet. He began reading food labels to educate himself and realized how much sugar, seed oils, allergens, and unnatural ingredients were in the products he thought were healthy. “I wanted to take the gas station out of beef jerky,” he says. 

Burke started making his own using grass-fed, organic beef, avoiding preservatives, and adding dehydrated fruit and nuts that made the meat snack more like trail mix. When he took the jerky to his job at Blackbaud, it kept disappearing, and he realized he’d have to ask his coworkers to pay for it. When they were willing, he discovered he had a business. And before long, he quit Blackbaud to make jerky full time. 

(Left) The New Primal founder Jason Burke offers Snack Mates; (Right) Burke launched sister label, Noble Made, last year to focus on low-sugar sauces and condiments.

Eventually, Burke learned it was hard to make a profit selling the “Trail Packs” because it was too difficult and expensive to keep all of the ingredients shelf-stable, so he switched to meat sticks (“a healthier version of Slim Jims,” he says), continuing his focus on fresh, natural ingredients using ethically raised animals and no artificial flavors or preservatives. 

The business has expanded to include Snack Mates mini-sticks for kids and moved beyond beef to offer turkey and chicken, as well as kid-friendly flavors like chicken and maple, chicken and apple, and pizza. In early 2023, Burke launched a second branch of the company, Noble Made, that produces “low-sugar, clean pantry products,” such as barbecue sauces and condiments. 

One thing that has remained constant, Burke says, is the company’s ethos. “When I started making beef jerky, I wanted something to represent us that was designed in the spirit of the ancestral eating model, but people don’t really hunt and gather food anymore; they go to grocery stores and markets,” he says. “We landed on an owl, one of nature’s perfect predators; they are adaptable, skilled hunters, and eat a widely diverse diet. If you add in their connotations of wisdom, you have the perfect fit for our logo. Our tagline is, ‘You are what you eat. Choose wisely.’ And that hasn’t changed.”

BY THE NUMBERS
■ 150,000: Pounds of protein used per month 
■ 13: Full-time employees
■ 10 million: Number of packages sold this year
■ 66 percent: Compound annual growth rate since 2013